Last week, India accused Pakistan of coercing Mr Kulbhushan Jadhav to refuse his review plea for his death sentence. Pakistan’s additional attorney general Ahmed Irfan had stated that Jadhav had been invited to file a review petition on his death sentence in Islamabad High Court as per the supervision of a ”International court of justice review and reconsideration ordinance 2020” promulgated on May 20. It was informed to India that Jadhav had declined to file it and India claimed it to be a sign of coercion by Pakistan on the Indian national.” ” We had pointed out how Pakistan’s claim that Kulbushan Jadhav has refused to initiate a review petition is a continuation of the farce playing out for the last four years. We are assessing our legal options, and we remain committed to protecting the life of our Indian nationals,” Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said.
Under these allegations, Pakistan decided to give India the second consular access to Jadhav, after the first was held on September 2, 2019. Jadhav had met Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia, but the whole meeting was recorded and was presided over by security officials. India had demanded access without interference from any Pakistani official.
India after the meeting on Thursday, accused Pakistan of not allowing free and unimpeded access. Anurag Srivastava said that the circumstances did not allow them to get Jadhav’s consent for legal representation for his review plea. The consent is mandatory to go forward in filing the review plea against the death sentence.
“The consular officers were not given unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access to Mr Jadhav. On the contrary, Pakistani officials, with an intimidating demeanour, were present in close proximity of Shri Jadhav and consular officers despite the protests of the Indian side. It was also evident from a camera that was visible that the conversation with Shri Jadhav was being recorded,” said the spokesperson.
Mr Srivastava added that Mr Jadhav was “visibly under stress and indicated that clearly to the consular officers.” “The arrangements did not permit a free conversation between them. The Consular Officers could not engage Shri Jadhav on his legal rights and were prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation,” said the Indian official.
In 2017, a Pakistani military tribunal had sentenced Kulbhushan Jadhav to death. He was allegedly arrested by Pakistani security officials in Baluchistan on March 3, 2016. He was ostensibly trying to enter the country from Iran claimed Islamabad. India has continuously rejected Pakistan’s claim of Jadhav being a spy and being included in subversive activities and has said that he was kidnapped from the Iranian port of Chabahar where he ran a business. He was just a former Navy official who was running a business post-retirement. India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On July 17, 2019, the ICJ gave its final verdict that Pakistan has breached its obligations under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). But as ICJ doesn’t function as a criminal court for appellate jurisdiction over domestic cases, the court could not annul the death sentence or order the release of Jadhav. It did ask Pakistan for ”effective review and reconsideration.’.
The earlier reports had suggested that Pakistan was willing to consider a review petition against the death sentence through a legal representative. The absence of written consent on the part of Jadhav makes it impossible.
The two Indian diplomats, Charge d’affaires, Gaurav Ahluwalia and First Secretary Cherakung Zeliang who were in the consular access meeting with Kulbhushan Jadhav left it, protesting against the intimidation on Jadhav from the Pak side.
On the other hand, Pakistan has claimed that the meeting went as planned without any hindrance. Pakistan had previously stated that “Pakistan remains committed to fully implementing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ‘s ‘s judgment of July 17 2019. It is hoped that India will cooperate with the Pakistan court in giving full effect to the said judgement.”
A day after the Indian officials walked out of the meeting, protesting and claiming the consular access as ”neither meaningful nor credible”, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated that they are willing to provide India with a third consular access meeting according to Pakistani media channels. The Express Tribune, a renowned national daily of Pakistan quoted Qureshi who said, “They had objected over the presence of security officials during the meeting, we are willing even to remove those officials. If India wants another access then our offer is open. If they (India) want to meet him tonight or tomorrow, we are ready,” on July 16. However, there is no confirmation, neither from India nor from Pakistan regarding the conveyance of the same to New Delhi.