Pakistan blocked twelve requests by India for unimpeded consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav - the Indian national sentenced to death on charges of espionage - preventing all his avenues for legal remedy, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a strong statement on Thursday. Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava accused Pakistan of adopting a "farcical approach" in handling the case, defying the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and added India is exploring all available options in the case.
"India has so far requested consular access twelve times over the past one year. However, Pakistan has so far not been able to provide an unimpeded consular access," Mr Srivastava said during an online media briefing.
"The meeting of Consular Officers with Shri Jadhav on 16 July was scuttled by Pakistan authorities. The Consular Officers were instructed not to hand over any document to Shri Jadhav. Hence, the Indian Consular Officers could not obtain a Power of Attorney from Shri Jadhav," he said.
"Similarly, India has repeatedly requested Pakistan for relevant documents related to the case of Shri Jadhav. Pakistan advised India that the relevant documents could be handed over only to an authorised Pakistani lawyer. Thereafter, India appointed a Pakistani lawyer to obtain the relevant documents. To our surprise, as advised by the Pakistani authorities, when the authorised Pakistani lawyer approached the concerned authorities, they declined to handover the documents to the lawyer," Mr Srivastava added.
As a last resort, India tried to file a petition on July 18. However, the Pakistani lawyer informed the Ministry that a review petition could not be filed in the absence of power of attorney and supporting documents related to the case, he said.
"The whole exercise of not providing any documents related to the case even after repeated requests, not providing an unimpeded consular access and some reported unilateral action of approaching the HC on part of Pakistan again exposes the farcical nature of Pakistan's approach. Pakistan is not only in violation of the judgment of ICJ, but also of its own Ordinance. Pakistan has completely failed to provide the remedy as directed by the ICJ and India reserves its position in the matter, including its rights to avail of further remedies," Mr Srivastava said.
Pakistan also created confusion over the last date of filing a petition, India said. After first indicating that a petition has to be filed by no later than July 19. the country later said that the time limit to file a review petition shall expire on July 20.
The 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Mr 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.