Islamabad: On Friday, a Pakistan court with a three-member bench assembled to hear the petition filed by the government to appoint a legal representative for death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav.
The decision was taken by the Islamabad high court after a two-member bench led by Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday ordered to set up a larger bench to hear the case.
On Monday, the court heard the petition filed by the Pakistan government to appoint a lawyer for Jadhav. It also named three senior lawyers as amici curiae in Jadhav’s case as it ordered the Pakistan government to give “another chance” to India to appoint a counsel for the death-row prisoner.
The new bench includes Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Auranzgeb. Justice Farooq was added to the previous bench which heard the case on August 3.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for September 3.
Jadhav, the 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.
India approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.
The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.
Pakistan on Thursday claimed that it had asked India through diplomatic channels to appoint a counsel for Jadhav, but New Delhi claimed that Islamabad has not yet contacted them regarding the developments of the case.
“After the directions of the Islamabad High Court of 3rd August we have contacted the Indian side through diplomatic channels and conveyed the same, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said . “We are awaiting Indian response,” she added.
However, in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “We have not received any communication from Pakistan on the issue.”
On July 16, Pakistan provided consular access to Jadhav, but the Indian government said the access was “neither meaningful nor credible” and he appeared visibly under stress.
Last month, Srivastava said Pakistan has once again exposed its “farcical” approach by denying available legal remedies to Jadhav against his death sentence which is also in contravention of the ICJ verdict, and asserted that India will explore further options in the case.
He said Pakistan has blocked all the avenues for an effective remedy available to India in the case, while noting that New Delhi has so far requested consular access to Jadhav for 12 times over the past one year.
The MEA spokesperson said Pakistan is not only in violation of the judgment of ICJ, but also of its own ordinance.