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CONSULAR ACCESS TO KULBHUSHAN JADHAV

 

Pakistan has offered the consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, an alleged spy in its custody and invited India to meet at 3.30 PM on August 02,2019. However the proposal came with the rider that the meeting would take place in CCTV and in the presence of a Pakistani officer. Mr Raveesh Kumar, a spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs of India confirmed the Pakistan’s offer and told the media that  “We are evaluating it in the light of the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), we will maintain communication with Pakistan in this matter through diplomatic channels” and refused to divulge further information on social media.

The decision to accord consular access to Jadhav comes after (ICJ) on July 18, rebuked Pakistan for violating the Vienna Convention by not granting India consular access to him. The ICJ has also suspended the death penalty awarded to Jadhav by Pakistan military court and directed Pakistan to review the death penalty awarded to Jadhav.  After the ICJ’s verdict, Pakistan had assured that it would comply with the directions of the Court and claimed that it had apprised Jadhav of his rights under Article 36, Paragraph 1(b) of the Vienna Convention. 
Jadhav was captured by Pakistan in March 2016 and was accused of terrorism and espionage. He was tried in a military court and was sentenced to death in April 2017. India moved the ICJ in May 2017 challenging the Pakistani military court judgment.

Viewpoint

It is learnt that India, in response to Pakistan’s conditional offer for consular access to Jadhav has asked Pakistan that the “unimpeded” consular access should be provided in an environment free from the fear of intimidation and reprisal in the light of the orders of the ICJ and in accordance of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations(VCCR). The Article 36, 1 para (a) of VCCR very clearly states that “ consular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending State i.e. India  and to have access to them. Nationals of the sending State i.e.Kulbhushan Jadhav shall have the same freedom with respect to communication with and access to consular officers of the sending State.”

Further, Article 36, 1 para (c) of VCCR states, “consular officers shall have the right to visit a national of the sending State who is in prison, custody or detention, to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal representation.”

Pakistan has already violated above by not granting consular access to India as it had turned down numerous requests from India.

It remains to be seen as to how Pakistan fulfills its International obligation of “ effective review and reconsideration of conviction of Jadhav by Military court”, in the backdrop of violating its domestic rule if it refers the review to the Millitary Appellate Tribunal since constitutional amendment which gave jurisdiction to the Army court has already lapsed and on other hand Pakistan faces a risk of exposing its military if it refers the matter to civilian court where India will take the services of good lawyer to argue the Jadhav’s case.

05 Aug 19/Monday                                                   Written by Fayaz

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