India's Queen's counsel demand for Kulbhushan Jadhav rejected by Pakistan
Pakistan on Friday dismissed India's request to appoint an Indian lawyer or Queen's counsel to represent Kulbhushan Jadhav, saying that New Delhi has been repeatedly making an "unrealistic demand." Jadhav, a retired Navy officer, is facing charges of espionage in Pakistan and was given a death sentence by a military court there. India is skeptical that Pakistan wouldn't provide a fair trial to Jadhav.
Jadhav, who is a retired officer of the Indian Navy, was captured by Pakistan on March 3, 2016. Pakistan accused him of terrorism, espionage, and claimed he wanted to stir troubles in Balochistan province. Pakistan told India about Jadhav's arrest only on March 25. When India sought consular access, it was denied. Back then, India said Pakistan didn't respect international laws.
In April'17, a military court gave death sentence to Jadhav. Meanwhile, in 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Islamabad to offer consular access, suspend Jadhav's death sentence, and ensure a free trial. India won, and Pakistan was left red-faced. Evidently, the case has sparked diplomatic tensions between hostile neighbors India and Pakistan for long.
On Thursday, India's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Pakistan didn't follow ICJ's judgment in letter and spirit. "It has not yet addressed the core issues, which includes provision of all documents related to the case, providing unconditional and unimpeded consular access to Kulbhusan Jadhav and appointment of an Indian lawyer or a Queen's Counsel to ensure free and fair trial," he said.
A barrister/advocate, who has been appointed as Counsel to the UK Crown after a recommendation from Lord Chancellor is called a Queen's Counsel. A Queen's Counsel is recognized across the globe. Notably, eminent lawyer Harish Salve, who represented India at ICJ, fits the bill.
Further, Srivastava underlined that Pakistan has given consular access to Jadhav only twice. In the last meeting of July, Pakistani officials were present, despite India's protests. "Jadhav himself was visibly under stress and indicated that clearly to the consular officers," the ministry had said. India also said Pakistan prohibited Jadhav from giving consent to arrange legal aid for him.
Although India clearly stated its terms, Pakistan didn't budge and called the demand for Queen's counsel "unrealistic." "We have informed India that only those lawyers are allowed to appear in Pakistani courts who have a license to practice law in Pakistan. This is in line with international legal practice. There can be no change in this position," said Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, spokesperson of Pakistan's Foreign Office.