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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Law and Justice Dr Farogh Naseem, on Wednesday, said that India would seek a contempt of court proceedings against Pakistan through the International Court of Justice (ICJ) besides moving a resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Pakistan if the bill aimed at giving consular access – in line with ICJ verdict – to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav – is not passed.

The minister, while speaking at the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice said that if we did not pass the International Court of Justice (Review and Reconsideration) Bill, 2021, India would go to the UNSC and would seek contempt proceedings against Pakistan at the ICJ.

The minister said this when chairman of committee Senator Ali Zafar asked him to make correction and re-examine the bill and bring it back by next meeting.

During the meeting, the bill aimed at granting convicted Indian spy Jadhav the right to review was discussed in detail.

The members of the committee said that the bill must not be restricted to foreign nationals but must also be extended to Pakistani citizens. The bill has put Kulbhushan Jadhav on a pedestal which is not conducive to the security environment of Pakistan. The principles of parity must not be violated, they said.

Naseem said that the ministry had worked relentlessly on the bill and done a lot of background research on it. However, it welcomed suggestions of the Committee. We are not giving right of appeal to Jadhav, he said, adding that if you think that we are giving right of appeal to Indian spy then members have not read the bill.

Chairman of the committee Zafar said that the law was necessary and observed that Pakistan is a signatory to the Vienna Convention and it was therefore Pakistan’s obligation to pass a law giving the accused the right to review as provided for in the convention. He, however, said that Pakistan is a sovereign country and, all laws made by it, must comply with Pakistan’s constitution and in the country’s interest. He said that in this connection laws should be for everybody and not person specific, nor such that they compromise Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Zafar suggested that the bill as drafted may require corrections to be made as it appears to contain an admission as if Pakistan had not given the right to review appeal to Jadhav and was passing this law because it had been directed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to do so.

He said that the law should only refer to the convention and adopt the relevant provision of providing a review instead of being “person-specific”.

He suggested that with these amendments, the bill can be passed in line with the Vienna Convention.

He said that the law needed to keep in mind Pakistan’s international obligation and principle of international law, while dealing with the issue.

Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar said that the law should cover both foreign and Pakistani nationals, otherwise, it will be violative of the Constitution. Why are making a person-specific law. Why we are reluctant to provide same remedy to those who are convicted by military court. Why are we so kind to Jadhav for the reason that he is from the enemy territory. If we want to bring an amendment then why not for everyone, he said.

Senator Farooq Naek stated that the law, as stated, was not in accordance with the Vienna Convention. As it is necessary to go for legislation as the ICJ judgment did not bind Pakistan and it gives us discretion that if we believed that there is a need to legislate then we will go for legislation otherwise not, he said.

Senator Raza Rabbani also raised an issue that the law should be made in accordance with Article 36 of the Convention.

He said that what will be the impact of the ICJ judgement on Pakistan, if it was not implemented.

At one stage, the minister annoyingly said that the same questions should be not asked again and again and he is not their servant.

He told the committee members to provide their questions in writing to him and he will reply in the next meeting.

The minister said that the law was required because ICJ had directed it.

Zafar said that the law was a necessary requirement and the committee was making observations and suggestions on how to improve the draft, so that it is compliant in all respects and if mistakes had been made in the initial draft, it was better to clear the problems at the stage of legislation. The committee deferred the bill till the next meeting to enable the Ministry of Law to respond to the queries of the members.

Jadhav had been sentenced to death by a military tribunal in 2017 on charges of terrorism and spying. The ICJ, in its judgement dated July 17, 2019, called for a review and reconsideration of the decision of the military court. The committee also discussed the anti-rape law. The committee observed that it is a very important law. All the members of the Committee endorsed the point of the view of the chairman and suggested various amendments to the bill to ensure its effectiveness and compliance with Pakistan’s legal system. It was decided by the committee that they will first take up clause by clause discussion of the bill in the next session of the Committee.

The meeting was also attended by Senator Kamran Murtaza, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Musadik Masood Malik, Azam Khan Swati, Shibli Faraz, and senior officials of the Ministry of Law and Justice.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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