India fails to appoint lawyer in ‘Kulbhushan’ case

By Diplomatic Correspondent

Islamabad: Pakistani court was told on Tuesday that India had refused to appoint a lawyer to defend Kulbhushan Jadhav, a death row inmate, in the case of a trial of his death sentence by a court in Pakistan.

This comes after Pakistan, on Thursday, once again rejected India’s demand that an Indian lawyer or Queen’s counsel be named to Jadhav to ensure a free and fair trial in the event. 

Fifty-year-old former Indian Navy officer Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military tribunal on charges of spying and terrorism in April 2017. Last month, the Islamabad High Court ( IHC) set a new deadline for India to nominate a legal representative for Jadhav. 

The three-member bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, while hearing the law ministry’s request on Tuesday to provide Jadhav with counsel, was told that India had failed to appoint a lawyer by 6 October, as ordered by the court, despite being forwarded for the second time to do so. 

Justice Minallah then asked the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan to help determine whether the court can appoint a legal representative to Jadhav without the approval of India and what the consequences of such a move would be. 

He also asked the AGP whether the selection of a lawyer by the court would provide a satisfactory framework for the successful enforcement of the judgment of the International Court of Justice ( ICJ) in the case. Later, the court adjourned the hearing of the case until 9 November. 

In 2017, India approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denying consular access to Jadhav and questioning the death sentence handed down to it by the military court. The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must conduct a “successful review and reconsideration” of Jadhav’s conviction and sentence and also grant consular access to India without further delay. 

India has slammed Pakistan for adopting a “farcical” approach in denying Jadhav’s available legal remedies against his death sentence in contravention of the ICJ order. Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said last month that the Government of Pakistan has not been able to fulfill its responsibilities with respect to the enforcement of the ICJ judgment in letter and spirit.

“The main issues that have not yet been addressed include the availability of all records relating to the case, ensuring unconditional and unimpeded consular access to Kulbhusan Jadhav, and the appointment of an Indian lawyer or Queen’s counsel to ensure a free and fair trial,” he said.

Meanwhile, two eminent lawyers nominated as amicus curiae apologized for supporting the court in the case. Abid Hassan Manto said he was sick, though Makhdoom Ali Khan apologized for appearing on professional grounds. 

But the two lawyers submitted a reply to the court saying that it was a matter of honor for them to be appointed as judicial assistants.

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