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Senate’s committee seeks right to appeal for citizens against decisions of military courts

Senators strongly opposed law that allowed Kulbushan Yadev to file appeal against decision of military court, whereas, this right is not given to Pakistanis

 ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice urged the government to give citizens the right to appeal against the decisions of military courts. Committee suggested amendment in the Pakistan Army Act to facilitate people to file appeal against verdicts of the military courts.

During a debate on the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Bill, members of the committee criticised the law ministry for introducing a Jadhav-specific law since the proposed legislation would enable him to challenge the military court’s verdict in the Islamabad High Court. The senators strongly opposed this legal facility for Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian navy’s commander, was arrested on March 3, 2016, when he entered Pakistan on March 3, 2016. He was was arrested during a counter-intelligence operation in Mashkel, Balochistan.

Jadhav confessed during interrogation that he worked for the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and that he had carried out espionage and terrorist activities in Sindh and Balochistan.

He was awarded the death sentence by a military court in April 2017. But the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a stay order against the conviction. The ICJ held that an appropriate remedy in this case would be a “review and reconsideration” of Jadhav’s conviction and death sentence.

A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice discussed the bill aimed at granting the Indian spy a right to appeal against his conviction.

PPP Senator Farooq H. Naek pointed out that the ICJ had not ‘directed’ Pakistan to carry out legislation for giving relief to Kulbhushan Jadhav. Instead, he added, the court had used the words “if necessary, then Pakistan may go for legi­slation”.

Azam Nazeer Tarrar, a PML-N member, pointed out that a Pakistani citizen did not have a right to challenge the decision of military courts since the Pakistan Army Act contained no such provision and how an Indian could spy arrested in Pakistan was given facility to challenge military court decision.

Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem expressed apprehensions that India could file a contempt of court petition against Pakistan and move the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions.

However, Senator Raza Rabbani reminded him that there was no provision of initiating contempt proceedings in the ICJ’s statute. He recalled that once the United States had vetoed a resolution brought by Nicaragua for not implementing the ICJ’s order.

He said, “Pakistan has strategic partners who can use the veto power to rescue it against such a move.”

Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice Barrister Zafar agreed that the legislation was necessary since Pakistan was a signatory to the Vienna Convention. “It is Pakistan’s obligation to pass a law giving the accused the right to review as provided for in the Convention.”

He, however, added that all laws made by parliament must comply with the country’s Constitution and must be in the nation’s interest.

“Laws should be for everybody and must not be person-specific nor should they compromise the country’s sovereignty,” Senator Zafar observed.

He suggested that the draft bill be amended as, in its present form, it appeared to contain an admission that Pakistan had not given the right to appeal to Jadhav and was passing this law simply because the ICJ had asked it to do so.

Senator Zafar said the law should only refer to the Vienna Convention and adopt the provision of providing a review instead of being “person-specific”.

He said the bill can be passed after these amendments in line with the Vienna Convention.

Senators Kamran Murtaza and Tarar said the law would be violative of the Constitution if it did not apply to both foreigners and Pakistan nationals.

Chairman of the committee Barrister Zafar wrapped up the debate by reiterating that the legislation was a requirement and the standing committee was making observations and suggestions on how to improve the draft.

Javed Mahmood
Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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