Pakistan’s National Assembly has passed a government-backed bill that will provide the right of appeal to Indian death-row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav, according to a media report.
The National Assembly passed the ICJ (Review and Re-consideration) Bill, 2020 on Thursday aimed at allowing alleged Indian spy Jadhav to have consular access in line with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) verdict, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Jadhav, the 51-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 ICJ 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.
The ICJ, in its 2019 verdict, had asked Pakistan to provide a proper forum for appeal against the sentence given to Jadhav.
Speaking after the passage of the bill, Law Minister Farogh Nasim said had they not passed the bill, India would have gone to the UN Security Council and could have moved contempt proceedings against Pakistan in the ICJ.
Nasim said the bill was being passed in light of the verdict of the ICJ.
He said by passing the law, they had proved to the world that Pakistan was a “responsible state”.
The National Assembly also passed 20 other bills, including the Elections (Amendment) Bill.
The Opposition members staged a walkout and pointed out the lack of quorum three times, but each time the chair declared the house in order and continued the business, forcing the Opposition to resort to noisy protest.
The Opposition members gathered in front of the Speaker’s dais and raised slogans. Criticising the government’s move, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal pointed out that it had included the bill in the heavy legislative agenda to provide relief to Jadhav.
Iqbal said it was a person-specific bill and the name of Jadhav was mentioned in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill.
He said when the country’s law allowed high courts to review the sentences awarded by military courts then what was the need for bringing the law.
The government had already enforced the law through the promulgation of an ordinance in May last year soon after the ICJ verdict in Jadhav’s case.
Amid stiff resistance offered by Opposition parties, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice on October 21 last year had approved the bill that seeks a review of the conviction of Jadhav.
The house also witnessed a rumpus when Pakistan Peoples Party’s Raja Pervez Ashraf protested over remarks of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who had stated that by opposing the bill to provide relief to Jadhav, the Opposition members were toeing the Indian narrative, the paper said.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked the speaker to provide some time to the members to see the bills.
He criticised the government for first bringing the bill to provide relief to Jadhav through an ordinance and then getting it passed through bulldozing the legislation.
Law minister Nasim said he was shocked to see the Opposition’s behaviour and it seemed that the opposition had not read the ICJ verdict. He said the ICJ had clearly asked Pakistan to make effective legislation to provide the right of review to Jadhav.