Pakistan’s Parliament has extended by four months an ordinance issued earlier this year to allow death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav to appeal against his conviction and sentencing in court, in line with a ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance was promulgated in May and was set to expire on September 17. The National Assembly or lower house of Parliament extended it through a voice vote on Monday.
Earlier, the Pakistan government had approached the Islamabad high court to appoint a defence lawyer to represent Jadhav for filing the appeal. The court heard the case for the second time on September 3 and directed the federal government to give India another opportunity to appoint a lawyer to represent Jadhav.
The case will now be taken up on October 3.
The Pakistan government has said only a lawyer allowed to practice in the country can be appointed as Jadhav’s counsel, but India has been insisting that it should be allowed to select a lawyer of its choice. It has also sought legal documents related to Jadhav’s case that it says Pakistan has so far failed to provide.
The Islamabad high court’s direction came after attorney general Khalid Javed Khan informed a larger bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and justices Aamer Farooq and Miangul Hassan Aurangzaib that the federal government hadn’t received a reply from the Indian government on the issue.
Khan said Jadhav has maintained he doesn’t want to benefit from the ordinance for a review of his case, and that he had requested his mercy plea, already pending with the Pakistan Army chief, should be considered instead.
On August 6, the Islamabad high court had formed a three-judge larger bench at the government’s request to appoint a lawyer for Jadhav so that an appeal could be filed against the death sentence given to him by a military court.
At that time, the high court had also directed the Pakistan government to make another offer to India and Jadhav, through the Foreign Office, to hire a lawyer. The court also said it was refraining from appointing a lawyer for Jadhav, who should be informed by the Pakistan government about his rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Jadhav, 50, was arrested by Pakistani security agencies in Balochistan in March 2016 and charged with involvement in spying. India rejected these allegations and said he was kidnapped by Pakistani operatives from the Iranian port of Chabahar, where he was running a business.