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Not legally possible to allow Indian lawyer to represent Jadhav: Pak

Pakistan said on Thursday that it was not legally possible to allow a lawyer from India to represent Indian prisoner on death row Kulbhushan Jadhav in a court in this country.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri was asked at the weekly press briefing about India’s demand to appoint a local counsel to plead Jadhav’s case in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which announced that it would the case on September 3.

“The Indian side has been also making incongruous demands of allowing an Indian lawyer to represent Commander Jadhav. We have repeatedly told them only those lawyers can represent Commander Jadhav in the court who have a licence to practice law in Pakistan. This is in accordance with legal practice in other jurisdictions also,” he said.

The spokesman also said the Indian Supreme Court, in one of its judgments, also ruled that foreign lawyers cannot practice law within the country.

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. Weeks later, India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.

The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July last year 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 judgment clearly says that the review and reconsideration process would be carried out in Pakistani courts as per the laws of Pakistan,” Chaudhari said.

He said immediately after the ICJ’s verdict, Pakistan informed Jadhav of his rights; provided consular access; and put a stay on his execution.

He said the provision of effective review and reconsideration is also under process.

Chaudhari said Pakistan facilitated the meeting of Jadhav’s family on humanitarian grounds and also provided second consular access to him.

Last month, Pakistan provided consular access to Jadhav, days ahead of a deadline to file a review petition in a court here against his conviction by a military court.

This was the second consular access to Jadhav. The first consular access was provided by Pakistan on September 2, 2019, the Foreign Office said in a statement “However, the Indian consular officials abruptly left while the consular meeting with Commander Jadhav was underway,” the spokesman claimed.

Chaudhri said that to give effect to the ICJ judgment, the Government of Pakistan has itself approached the Islamabad High Court and India must come forward and cooperate with the court in Pakistan to give effect to the judgment of the ICJ.

Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran. India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.