Lekha G –
Pakistan’s National Assembly has passed a government-backed bill allowing Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to appeal his conviction in the Indian High Court.
Mr. Jadhav, the 51-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.
India challenging the death sentence approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Mr. Jadhav.
The Court ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an “Effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Mr. Jadhav and also grant consular access to India.
Law Minister Farogh Nazim said the bill was passed in light of the verdict of the ICJ and that India would have approached the UN Security Council moving contempt proceedings against Pakistan in ICJ if the bill hadn’t been passed by them.
The National Assembly passed 20 other bills, including the Elections (Amendment) Bill.
The Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal criticizing the government’s move pointed out that it had included the bill in the heavy legislative agenda to provide relief to Mr. Jadhav and questioned the need for bringing a law when High Courts were there to review sentences awarded by military courts.
The Government has also filed a review in Islamabad High Court which asked the Indian Government to appoint a lawyer to represent Jadhav to conclude the review case.
The bill was introduced and approved by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice on October 21 despite protests by opposition members of the committee.
The passage of the bill in the National Assembly is a step ahead towards finalization of the law and it is yet to be represented in the Senate which would further go to the president for final approval.