Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav who is held captive in Pakistan on charges of espionage is not able to get legal representation in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities last year had told the Indian High Commission that only a Pakistani lawyer could represent Kulbhushan Jadhav in court. During the consular access provided to Jadhav last year in September, he had allowed Indian High Commission in Pakistan to represent him by signing a power of attorney.
However, the defence counsels who were selected by Islamabad High Court to provide legal representation to Jadhav have refused to take up his case. The High Court had sought the assistance of two senior lawyers in Pakistan namely Abid Hassan Minot and Makhdoom Ali Khan. Both have expressed inability to represent Jadhav.
India had requested Pakistani authorities to let Jadhav be represented by an Indian lawyer or the Queen’s counsel. But the request was rejected by Pakistan. India has said that Pakistan has not yet fulfilled its obligations as per the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which required Pakistan to provide all the documents related to Jadhav’s case, provide unconditional and unimpeded consular access to Jadhav and to appoint an Indian or Queen’s counsel to ensure free and fair trial in Jadhav’s case.
Background of the Case
Kulbhushan Jadhav was captured by Pakistani authorities on allegations of espionage in 2016. The Indian side has maintained that Jadhav, who is a businessman, was abducted by Pakistan from the Iranian port of Chabahar and was handed over to Pakistani authorities. He was arrested on March 3, 2016 and granted a death sentence in 2017.
The Indian side had approached the ICJ against Jadhav’s execution. The ICJ had stayed Jadhav’s execution by the military court and had allowed him to challenge his execution in a civil court. In order to comply with the direction of the ICJ, Pakistan needs to amend its Army Act. However, recently Pakistan had rejected reports claiming that it was amending its Army Act. In July this year, Pakistani had claimed that Jadhav had refused to file a petition for review of his death sentence.