In a relief to alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, Pakistan has passed a law that allows the jailed Indian national the right of appeal in any high court of the country. The move is seen as an attempt to prove that Islamabad acted responsibly in the highly controversial case.
Had Pakistan’s National Assembly not passed the ICJ (Review and Reconsideration) Bill, 2020, India would have gone to the UN Security Council and could have moved contempt proceedings against Islamabad in the ICJ, reported Dawn.
After the passage of the bill, Pakistan’s Law Minister Farogh Nasim said, “By passing the bill, they had proved to the world that Pakistan was a responsible state.
The government’s move to pass the bill was in line with the Hague-based International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) verdict. The bill seeks to provide consular access to the alleged Indian spy.
In July 2019, ICJ in its verdict said that Pakistan must undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay. According to Republic World, it had asked Pakistan to provide a proper forum for appeal against the sentence given to Jadhav by a military court.
The opposition members in Pakistan’s Parliament protested over the passage of the bill after suspending the rules of business, pointing out lack of quorum and raising slogans like “Modi Ka Jo Yar Hai Ghaddar Hai” (Modi’s friend is a traitor) and “Kulbhushan Ko Phansi Do” (Hang Kulbhushan).
According to Dawn, the Opposition demanded that members should be given at least 48 hours before presenting a bill in the National Assembly for passage after the presentation of a report on the bill by the committee concerned. They criticized the government for getting the bill passed by bulldozing the legislation.
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Abdul Qadir Patel of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said, “We did whatever we could do to stop you but you are bent upon defacing history. Therefore, we have decided to boycott the proceedings”.
Shazia Maria of the PPP also expressed her dissatisfaction over the passage without approval by the committee and alleged that the bill was being bulldozed to fulfill the agenda of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Pakistan is desperately seeking IMF assistance to tide over its economic crisis.
Justifying the government’s move, the Law Minister said that the bill was being passed in the light of the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He mentioned that ICJ had clearly asked Islamabad to make effective legislation to provide the right of review to Jadhav.
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice in October last year had approved the bill seeking review of the conviction of Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested on an espionage charge.
In 2017, Jadhav, a 51-year-old former Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for espionage and terrorism. India has maintained that Jadhav was abducted from Chabhahar in Iran where he was running a business. However, Pakistan denied Indian claims saying he was arrested from Balochistan in 2016.
Pakistan had denied consular access to Jadhav. Following this, India approached the ICJ against Pakistan and challenged the death sentence. The ICJ verdict came out in India’s favor, forcing Pakistan to act accordingly.
India has welcomed the latest move by Pakistan to allow the right of appeal to Jadhav, but it said, “this law will be meaningless if he is not given an Indian lawyer or some neutral legal assistance”, reported News18.