What can be called a major development after the International Court of Justice had asked Pakistan to provide a proper forum for appeal against the death sentence which was given against Kulbhushan Jadhav in 2019, a bill providing the right to appeal to Kulbhushan Jadhav has been passed in Pakistan’s National Assembly. Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy Officer was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April 2017 after he was abducted from Chabhahar, Iran where he was working as a privateer and was lodged in a Pakistani jail on charges of terrorism and espionage.
After the death sentence, India had approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for the denial of Jadhav’s consular access and challenged the death sentence, eventually winning a favourable verdict. The ICJ had ruled in 2019 that Pakistan must undertake an effective ‘review and reconsideration’ of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav. Pakistan was also directed to grant the consular access to India without further ado. Pakistan was asked to provide a proper forum for appeal against the sentence given to Jadhav. While Pakistan had been represented by Khawar Qureshi, India was represented by Senior Advocate Harish Salve.
After this provision being made, as per reports, India is likely to seek cross-examination of the Pakistani military officers who had abducted Kulbhushan Jadhav, along with those who had recorded his ‘confession’. After the bill was passed, Law Minister Farogh Nasim said that if they had not passed the bill, India would have gone to the UN Security Council and could have moved contempt proceedings against Pakistan in the International Court of Justice based in Hague. Nasim said that the bill was passed in the verdict’s wake of the International Court of Justice. He said that by bypassing the law, Pakistan had proved to be a ‘responsible State’.
The International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Bill, 2020 allows a foreign national to challenge a military court’s order in any High Court of Pakistan either himself or through a consular officer of his country’s mission. The passage of the bill is attracting a lot of criticism from the Pakistani opposition. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal highlighted that the government had included the bill in the heavy legislative agenda to provide relief to Jadhav. Iqbal also said that it was a person-specific bill and Jadhav’s name was mentioned in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill. He asked as to what was the need to pass the bill when the country already had provisions of High Courts reviewing sentences given by military courts.
Soon, a ruckus ensued with Pakistan Peoples Party’s Raja Pervez Ashraf protested over remarks of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who had said that by opposing the bill, the opposition was toeing the line of the Indian narrative. Pakistan People’s Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked the speaker to provide some time to the members to see the bill. He too criticized the government for bringing the bill to provide relief to Jadhav and for later getting it passed through bulldozing the legislation. To all this, Law Minister Nasim reacted by saying that he was shocked to see the behaviour of the opposition members and he felt like they had not read the ICJ verdict.
No right to read the bill, no right to debate the bill, no right to have our vote counted and our opposition recorded. Completely undermine the role of parliament in legislation. Highly condemnable. Bulldozing of Election rigging bill, Kulbhushan NRO bill, PMDC, NEPRA bill. https://t.co/v5rQpkcxTW
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) June 10, 2021
The opposition also moved a no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri for ‘illegal’ collaboration with the government. The joint opposition letter read, “The Deputy Speaker through his unlawful and fascist conduct has become the instrument of treasury benches to bulldoze legislation, deny the members the right to deliberate upon legislation and to repressively silencing the voice of the people of Pakistan.”
PTI government bulldozed about 20 bills in the National Assembly yesterday in an unprecedented hurry & in contravention of democratic norms & legislative rules. This move clearly had a mala fide intention behind it. This is not how a Parliament is run through arbitrariness.
— Shehbaz Sharif (القدس في العيون) (@CMShehbaz) June 11, 2021
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