Govt tables Jadhav-specific law in National Assembly

Arshad Waheed Chaudhry
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan. — Facebook/Files

The federal government on Monday tabled the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance, 2020 in the National Assembly for approval.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan presented the bill in the assembly.

The ordinance had sparked a heated debate between the opposition and the ruling party, with the former calling it an NRO for the Indian spy and the latter saying that they were bound by the ICJ's jurisdiction.

Last week, Awan had said that the government would present the bill next week for approval.

“In no way has the national interest or security been compromised by the promulgation of this ordinance. Therefore, the political hullaballoo is not justified or fair,” he told The News.

Read more: Kulbhushan Jadhav not given NRO, Farogh Naseem tells NA

Speaking about the timeline of the ordinance, Awan said it was given to the federal cabinet on May 15. “The cabinet passed it on May 18, while Prime Minister Imran Khan received it on May 19 and sent it to President Dr Arif Alvi next day for issuance of the ordinance,” he was quoted by The News as saying.

The ordinance will have overriding effect. Its provisions shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any law for the time being in force, including the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

IHC moved for legal representative

The government on July 22 had approached the Islamabad High Court to appoint a legal representative for the Indian spy.

The move was made in the light of the International Court of Justice's July 17, 2019 decision, following which the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance, 2020 was enacted to implement the court's verdict.

Read more: Govt moves IHC to appoint legal counsel for Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav

The federation, through the defense secretary and the Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch of General Headquarters (GHQ), has been made a party in the petition filed by the Ministry of Law and Justice.

According to the petition, Jadhav refused to file a petition against his sentence.

The Indian spy cannot appoint a lawyer in Pakistan without India's assistance, while New Delhi is also reluctant to avail the facility under the ordinance, the petition said.

The government, in the petition, has asked the court to appoint a legal representative for Jadhav so that Pakistan can fulfil its responsibility to see to the implementation of the ICJ's decision.

On July 17, Pakistan had offered Jadhav consular access for a third time, after the second opportunity was not fully availed.

A day prior, Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that India's ill-intentions were revealed when Pakistan provided New Delhi's diplomats uninterrupted consular access to the RAW spy for a second time at the country's own request, but they left without meeting him in Islamabad, saying the environment was "unsuitable".

Read more: ICJ dismisses India’s plea for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s acquittal, release

"Two Indian diplomats were given consular access to Kulbhushan today, according to what was agreed upon. [However], India's ill-intentions have been unmasked. They did not want consular access," Qureshi said, in a conversation with Geo News.

Case background

Commander Jadhav — an Indian Navy officer working for Indian covert agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) — was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Balochistan after he entered into Pakistan from Iran.

On 10th April, 2017, Jadhav was tried in a military court, which sentenced him to death for espionage and subversive activities. On May 18, 2017, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to halt the execution of Jadhav until a final decision was made in the proceedings.

Read more: Bilawal accuses PM Imran of trying to give NRO to Kulbhushan Jadhav

On July 17, the court rejected India's appeal for Jadhav's release and asked Pakistan to suspend the execution. It ruled that Pakistan will have to review the entire process of trial and conviction of Jadhav and provide India with consular access. Over the past few days, Pakistan granted consular access to India thrice.