Kulbhushan Jadhav should be represented by Indian lawyer: MEA tells Pakistan

MEA says the two countries are in touch through diplomatic channels

[File] Pakistan had facilitated a meeting of Jadhav with his mother and wife in Islamabad on December 25, 2017 | PTI [File] Pakistan had facilitated a meeting of Jadhav with his mother and wife in Islamabad on December 25, 2017 | PTI

India wants Kulbhushan Jadhav to be represented by an Indian lawyer in Islamabad. The ministry of external affairs on Thursday said that the two countries are in touch through diplomatic channels.

“We believe for a free and fair trial in keeping with the letter and spirit of ICJ [International Court of Justice] judgment in Kulbhushan Jadhav case; we have asked that Jadhav be represented by an Indian lawyer,’’ said Anurag Srivastava at the virtual weekly briefing on Thursday.

Pakistan has so far insisted that only a Pakistani lawyer could represent Jadhav. “Pakistan has to address the core issues giving copies of relevant documents of the case and providing unimpeded consular access,’’ said Srivastava.

To ensure that Jadhav does get representation, India had appointed a lawyer in Pakistan last month, but the relevant documents were not handed over to him. The lack of evidence to support Jadhav’s conviction is what India has argued even at the ICJ. Senior lawyer Harish Salve, who defended Jadhav in ICJ, had said that Pakistan had failed to provide the charge-sheet for Jadhav.

Pakistan passed an Ordinance a few months ago that allows Jadhav a shot at trying the case in civil court. Earlier in the month, a two judge-bench headed by chief justice Athar Minallah held that Pakistan had to inform Jadhav of his rights under the Vienna Convention, as well as the Ordinance promulgated by Pakistan to offer him review of his military trial. 

“He shall be specifically informed regarding his right to avail the statutory remedy provided under the Ordinance of 2020 and to authorise the Government of India to arrange legal representation on his behalf,’’ the chief justice has been quoted as saying.

However, there will be apprehensions in India about how this will play out. Especially, if Pakistan chooses the court to push a narrative of India aiding terrorism in Balochistan, which was what happened during the ICJ trial.

Pakistan claimed at a surprise press conference two months ago that Jadhav had refused to pursue a review petition in civil court. 

India has consistently held that Pakistan is not serious about the Ordinance filed. Pakistan, an MEA statement in July alleged, took “two weeks’’ to inform India about the Ordinance. The copy was shared only after India requested. “It has blocked all the avenues for an effective remedy available for India,’’ the MEA statement read. 

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