The Islamabad High Court on Thursday constituted a two-member bench to hear a review petition filed by the Pakistan government in the case of Indian death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav, according to the Pakistani media.
The bench comprising Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah and his fellow judge Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb would take up the government plea on Monday, the Pakistani media, including the Geo News, reported. In a unilateral move, Pakistan filed the petition in the IHC on Jul 22, seeking appointment of a "legal representative" for Jadhav.
However, the main parties, including the government of India, were not consulted ahead of the filing of the application by the Ministry of Law and Justice under an ordinance which was enacted on May 20. Under the 'International Court of Justice Review and Reconsideration Ordinance 2020', which was enacted on May 20, a petition for the review of a military court's decision can be made to Islamabad High Court through an application within 60 days of its promulgation.
The ordinance was approved by the parliament this week. Jadhav, the 50-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 approached the ICJ against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 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. The Pakistan government, in the petition, has asked the IHC to appoint a legal representative for Jadhav so that Pakistan can fulfil its responsibility to see to the implementation of the ICJ's decision, local media reports said.
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui last week said that the "necessary steps" have been taken to implement the verdict of the ICJ. The Pakistan government has claimed that Jadhav refused to file a review petition or an application to reconsider the verdict.
In New Delhi, External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava last week said Pakistan has once again exposed its "farcical" approach by denying available legal remedies to Jadhav against his death sentence which is also in contravention of the ICJ verdict, and asserted that it will explore further options in the case. Srivastava said Pakistan has blocked all the avenues for an effective remedy available to India in the case, while noting that New Delhi has so far requested consular access to Jadhav for 12 times over the past one year.
"The whole exercise of not providing documents related to the case even after repeated requests, not providing an unimpeded consular access and some reported unilateral action of approaching the High Court on part of Pakistan again exposes the farcical nature of Pakistan's approach," he said. The MEA spokesperson said Pakistan is not only in violation of the judgment of ICJ, but also of its own ordinance.