India on Wednesday hit out at Pakistan for claiming that former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, arrested on charges of espionage and terrorism in 2016, has refused to file a review petition against his death sentence handed down by a Army court in April 2017. Anurag Srivastava, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said that Jadhav has been coerced to forego his rights.

Jadhav’s execution was stayed after India moved the International Court of Justice against the verdict in May 2017. India had contended in the court in The Hague that the lack of consular access to Jadhav was a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Following the court’s judgement, Pakistan allowed India access to the former naval officer.

“The media statement made by Pakistan today in the case seeks to mask its continuing reticence to implement ICJ judgment in letter and spirit,” a statement by Srivastava said. “Pakistan’s claim that Jadhav, who is incarcerated in Pakistan’s custody, has refused to initiate review petition is a continuation of the farce that has been in play for the last four years.”

The foreign ministry said Pakistan is only “seeking to create an illusion of remedy” and attempting “to create a mirage of compliance” with the United Nations highest legal body.

“Jadhav has been sentenced to execution through a farcical trial. He remains under custody of Pakistan’s military,” the MEA added. “He has clearly been coerced to refuse to file a review in his case. India sought unimpeded access to Shri Jadhav to discuss his remedies under the Ordinance. In a brazen attempt to scuttle even the inadequate remedy under the Ordinance, Pakistan has obviously coerced Jadhav to forego his rights to seek an implementation of the judgment of the ICJ.”

The ministry said it has been pursuing full and effective implementation of the ICJ judgment through diplomatic channels. “Despite our repeated requests, Pakistan continues to deny India free and unimpeded access to Jadhav,” it added. “India has repeatedly asked to allow a lawyer from outside Pakistan to appear for Jadhav in any review and reconsideration proceedings. Pakistan has denied it.”

Srivastava pointed out that since 2017 Pakistan has also not given any relevant documents, like first information report, court order, evidence, to India.

“ICJ has already held that Pakistan is in egregious violation of international law,” the foreign ministry said. “Government will do its utmost to protect Jadhav and ensure his safe return to India. To that end, it would consider all appropriate options.”

Pakistan claims

Speaking at a press briefing, Pakistan’s Additional Attorney-General Ahmed Irfan said that an Ordinance had been issued in May that allowed Jadhav, his legal representative, or a representative of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to file a review petition in line with ICJ verdict of July 2019.

Irfan claimed that on June 17, Jadhav was invited to file a review petition in the Islamabad High Court against his sentence, but he chose not to do so. Jadhav, instead, “preferred to follow-up” on his pending “mercy” petition, he added.

The legal officer also claimed that Pakistan has repeatedly written to the Indian High Commission to file the review petition before the deadline.