ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Wednes­day moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for appoint­ment of state counsel for Indian spy, Commander Kul­b­h­u­shan Jadhav, to implement the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding his conviction.

The government filed the petition through the law and justice secretary after the agent of India’s intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and the Indian government avoided the remedy made available to them by the federation for filing a review petition against his death sentence.

The defence secretary and Judge Advocate Gene­ral (JAG) at the General Headquarters (GHQ) have been impleaded as respondents in the petition that urged the IHC to appoint the counsel to review and reconsider the military court verdict in accordance with the ICJ decision.

According to the petition, Commander Jadhav of the Indian Navy illegally ent­ered Pakistan on March 3, 2016, and was arrested by the Pakistani authorities in a counter-intelligence operation from Mashkel, Baloch­is­tan. The naval commander confessed to his association with the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, and involvement in espionage and terrorist activities in different parts of Balochistan and Sindh. After a trial in a military court, the RAW agent was sentenced to death on April 10, 2017. The ICJ in its July 2019 ruling had asked Pakistan to grant consular access to India and called for effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav case.

Defence secretary, GHQ’s judge advocate general impleaded as respondents

Pakistan invited India to move a review and reconsideration petition before the IHC under “The Interna­tio­nal Court of Justice (Rev­iew and Reconsi­deration) Ordi­nance 2020” against his conviction by a military court.

The invitation was extended to the Indian government after Commander Jadhav twice declined to take advantage of the law, insisting that sympathetic consideration be given to his mercy petition pending with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Section 2 of the ICJ Review and Reconsideration Ordinance, 2020 empowers Pakistan’s high court to review and reconsider any decision where the ICJ has decided in relation to a foreign national in respect of rights under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations of April 24, 1963 or a foreign national was aggrieved in respect of the rights available under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations of April 24, 1963.

Such foreign national, whether himself or through his authorised representative or through a consular officer of a mission of his country, may file a petition before the high court for review and reconsideration in terms of Section 3 with regard to an order of conviction or sentence awarded by a military court operating under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952.

In the petition, the law ministry stated that the RAW agent had refused to engage a lawyer for himself and refused to file a petition for the review and reconsideration of his sentence and conviction. The petition said he “does not have independent means nor does he possesses the capability to engage and instruct a lawyer in Pakistan without assistance from his own country i.e. India which is avoiding the remedy made available by the federation under the ordinance.

“It is in the national interest that a legal representative is appointed for and on behalf of commander Jadhav, so that the review and reconsideration proceedings of the accused conviction and sentence may be initiated, in terms of the ordinance thereby discharging Pakistan of its duty to comply with the judgement of the ICJ,” the petition added.

Subsequently, the petition requested the court to “appoint any suitable” counsel to file petition for the review and reconsideration on behalf of the convict.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2020