External Affairs

India Submits Kulbhushan Jadhav’s Mother’s Appeal to Pakistan

India also asked for consular access to Jadhav “for the 16th time”. Pakistan has, so far, refused to accede to the Indian request.

File photo of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of ‘espionage’. | Photo Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Two weeks after Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death for espionage by a Pakistan military court, India has handed over a petition from his mother to the Pakistan government along with a separate appeal to the Court of Appeal.

On April 10, the Pakistani military’s spokesperson announced thatthe Field General Court Martial had sentenced Jadhav to death for spying under the Official Secrets Act and Pakistan army Act, alleging that he was a serving Indian military officer on an espionage mission to foment sectarianism and terrorist activities. India claimed that Jhadav had already retired from the Indian navy and strongly implied that he had been kidnapped from Iran by Pakistan’s security agencies.

Fifteen days later, India has started to roll out the legal process starting with a meeting between the Indian foreign secretary and Pakistan’s envoy in New Delhi on Tuesday, followed by the Indian high commissioner calling on the Pakistani foreign secretary on Wednesday.

As per the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) press release, the Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale handed over two documents in his meeting with Tehmima Janjua at the Pakistan foreign office.

First, he submitted a petition by Jadhav’s mother addressed to the Pakistan government. “The mother of Shri Jadhav has requested the intervention of the Federal Government of Pakistan for his release and has expressed the desire to meet him,” said the MEA communique.

Secondly, Bambawale handed over an “appeal by the mother to the Court of Appeal, on behalf of Shri Jadhav, who continues to be in detention in Pakistan on concocted charges”.

With both of Jhadav’s parents having applied for visas with the Pakistan high commission in Delhi this week, India’s top diplomats asked Pakistan to facilitate the approval of their applications. “They wish to travel to Pakistan to meet him and also to personally file the petition and the appeal,” said the press note.

Besides this, India also asked for consular access to Jadhav “for the 16th time”. Pakistan has, so far, refused to accede to the Indian request.

In a press statement released on April 14, the Pakistani prime minister’s foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz had given three options for Jadhav’s appeal process.

–  Right to appeal within 40 days to an Appellate Court.

–  Mercy petition to the Chief of Army Staff within 60 days of the decision by the appellate court.

–  Mercy petition to the President of Pakistan within 90 days after the decision of Pakistan army chief on the previous mercy petition.

However, India pointed out that Pakistan should have conveyed these options to India through diplomatic channels, rather than disseminating them through the media.

This was communicated by India last week when Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner was summoned to the MEA premises on April 20.

“And we would also like to know officially what is the future course of action in terms of the appeals process, what the options are and how they can be exercised. So officially we have sought that information also from the Government of Pakistan,” said MEA spokesperson Gopal Bagley on April 21.

Sources told The Wire that the petition was filed under section 131 of the Pakistan army Act, while the appeal followed the guidelines of section 133 (b) of the same legislation.

Section 131 instructs that any person “aggrieved” with a sentence under the Pakistan military court system could submit a petition to the “Federal Government, or the Chief of Army Staff or to any prescribed officer who is superior in command to the one who confirmed such finding or sentence”.

Jadhav’s “appeal” through his mother’s letter to the Court of Appeal was handed over under section 133B of Pakistan army act, which called for submission within 40 days of sentencing. The Court of Appeals was described as consisting of the Chief of Army staff, or officers nominated by him who were at least of brigadier rank and presided by a major general or higher ranked officer.

According to sub-clause 3 of the Pakistan army Act’s section 133B, the decision of the Court of the Appeals “shall be final and shall not be called in question before any Court or other authority whatsoever”.

This is the second time that high commissioner Bambawale has met Janjua since the sentence was announced. After the first meeting on April 14, Bambawale had told reporters, “We have said that at the minimum, we should be allowed to meet him. This is allowed under international law, national law and as a mark of humanity. I have demanded this”.

Earlier in the day, the Pakistan army released a video of former Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan, where he ‘confessed’ that Indian and Afghan intelligence were backing the Pakistan Taliban.

He claimed that TTP was getting funding and material support from India’s external spy agency, RAW through Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS).

“These organisations have established committees in Afghanistan through which they communicate and coordinate with RAW. The Indians had given them special documents to help them move around Afghanistan with ease,” Ehsan alleged.

Pakistan has been accusing India of being behind terror attacks, even sending ‘dossiers’ to UN and other countries. But so far, even Pakistani officials had candidly acknowledged before its parliamentary panel that there had been no concrete evidence to back these claims.

Aziz’s April 14 statement had a long list of “terrorist activities” in which Jadhav was “involved”, but there was no specific information or dates mentioned to pin down any particular event.