Pakistan’s National Assembly on Thursday approved a bill that will provide former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav the right to appeal against his conviction and death sentence in court, Dawn reported.
The ICJ (Review and Re-consideration) Bill, 2020, which was backed by the Pakistan government, will also allow Jadhav to have consular access in accordance with the International Court of Justice verdict.
According to the bill, High Courts will have the power to review and reconsider cases where the International Court of Justice passes an order in respect of rights of a foreigner under the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, reported ANI. It also provides for High Courts to review cases when the foreigner is treated unfairly in respect to his rights under the convention.
The bill states that such a foreigner can file a petition before a High Court for review and reconsideration in regard to an order of conviction. It was adopted by the Assembly after getting approval from a 21-member standing committee.
A Pakistani military court had sentenced Jadhav to death in April 2017 for allegedly spying for India. 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 in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
In July 2019, the International Court of Justice ordered Pakistan not to execute Jadhav. Following the order, Pakistan allowed India access to the former naval officer. However, India has alleged that Pakistan has not provided unimpeded consular access to Jadhav.
On Thursday, Pakistan Law Minister Farogh Nasim said the bill was being passed in view of the International Court of Justice verdict.
The law minister said if the bill was not passed, India would have approached the United Nations Security Council and could have moved contempt proceedings against Pakistan in the International Court of Justice. By passing the law, Nasim said, Pakistan has proved to the world that it was a responsible country.
The Pakistani government had enforced the law by passing a promulgation of an ordinance in May last year.
The recent law was passed amid protests from the Opposition parties, who staged a boycott and shouted slogans demanding hanging for the former Navy officer. Besides the bill for Jadhav, 20 more were passed by the Assembly on Thursday.
Pakistani Muslim League (N) Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal criticised the legislation to provide relief to the former Navy officer, saying that the bill was person-specific. He asked what was the need to bring the legislation when the country’s law allowed High Courts to review the sentences awarded by military courts.