Islamabad, July 23: Pakistan’s Ministry of Law and Justice on Wednesday filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court for a lawyer to be appointed for former Indian Navy commander Kulbhushan Jadhav who is facing a death penalty for alleged espionage.

The petition seeks the appointment of a lawyer for Jadhav so that he can file a review petition against his death sentence, Hindustan Times reported.

The ministry’s petition submitted that though Jadhav has refused to engage a lawyer and file a petition, “it is in the national interest that a legal representative is appointed for and on behalf of Commander Jadhav, so that the review and reconsideration proceedings of the accused’s conviction and sentence may be initiated” and Pakistan can comply with the International Court of Justice’s order.

In July 2019, the International Court of Justice ordered Pakistan to provide consular access to Jadhav and review his death sentence.

Pakistan says Jadhav was arrested on charges of espionage in Balochistan in March 2016 and sentenced to death by a military court a year later. Under Pakistan’s International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Ordinance, 2020, he only has a short period of time left to file a reconsideration appeal. So far, neither Jadhav nor the Indian government through its high commission in Islamabad have filed a petition, says the Pakistan government. 

India has rubbished the spying charges against Jadhav and maintains that he was abducted from Chabahar in Iran.

The two countries have wrangled over consular access to Jadhav. A meeting between Indian officials and Jadhav on Thursday ended inconclusively, with New Delhi accusing Islamabad of breaching its assurance of providing unimpeded access to the former naval officer.

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