India on Thursday accused Pakistan of blocking all legal remedies to Indian death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav, saying it had requested for consular access 12 times and that Islamabad had not provided "unhindered and unimpeded access".
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson at a press briefing in New Delhi also said Pakistan adopted a "farcical approach" in handling the case, adding India is exploring available options in the matter.
The 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
The Hague-based ICJ ruled last July 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.
Srivastava on Thursday said India had tried to file a review petition on July 18 for Jadhav but the lawyer appointed by India was told he has no power of attorney and Pakistan had failed to provide the relevant documents relating to the case.
"India has so far requested consular access 12 times over the past one year. However, Pakistan has so far not been able to provide an unimpeded consular access. The meeting of Consular Officers with Jadhav on July 16 was scuttled by Pakistan authorities. The Consular Officers were instructed not to hand over any document to Jadhav. Hence, the Indian Consular Officers could not obtain a Power of Attorney from Jadhav," said spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
"Similarly, India has repeatedly requested Pakistan for relevant documents related to the case of Jadhav. Pakistan advised India that the relevant documents could be handed over only to an authorised Pakistani lawyer. Thereafter, India appointed a Pakistani lawyer to obtain the relevant documents. To our surprise, as advised by the Pakistani authorities, when the authorised Pakistani lawyer approached the concerned authorities, they declined to handover the documents to the lawyer," he added.
"In the absence of a unimpeded and unhindered consular access as well as of the relevant documents, as a last resort, India tried to file a petition on 18 July. However, our Pakistani lawyer informed that a review petition could not be filed in the absence of power of attorney and supporting documents related to the case of Jadhav," he said, adding that Pakistan also created confusion over the last date of filing a petition.
Jadhav's 60 days to file his review petition ended on July 20. Pakistan had passed an ordinance in May saying it would comply with the ICJ ruling of 2019.
"Initially, they (Pakistan) indicated that a petition has to be filed by no later than 19 July. Subsequently, Pakistan indicated that the time limit to file a review petition shall expire on 20 July. Knowing the inadequacies and shortcomings in the Ordinance, India had already shared its concerns in June 2020, including a considerable delay in informing India about its promulgation, with the Pakistan authorities," said Srivastava.
He said that Pakistan took two weeks to inform India about this Ordinance and shared the copy of the Ordinance only after Delhi requested for it. "India has conveyed that the Ordinance neither fulfills nor does it give complete weight to the judgment of the ICJ. With regards to the Ordinance, it seems, Pakistan was non-serious in its approach and was not interested in implementing the judgment of the ICJ in letter and spirit. It has blocked all the avenues for an effective remedy available for India," he said.
"The whole exercise of not providing any documents related to the case even after repeated requests, not providing an unimpeded consular access and some reported unilateral action of approaching the HC on part of Pakistan again exposes the farcical nature of Pakistan’s approach. Pakistan is not only in violation of the judgment of ICJ, but also of its own Ordinance. Pakistan has completely failed to provide the remedy as directed by the ICJ and India reserves its position in the matter, including its rights to avail of further remedies," said the spokesperson.
India's requests for access to Jadhav have been denied despite Pakistan being directed to do so by the ICJ.
Pakistan last week claimed it had provided consular access to Jadhav, on death row, days after Islamabad claimed that he has refused to file an appeal in a court here against his conviction by a military court.