Pakistan to modify Army Act, to allow Kulbhushan Jadhav to appeal in civilian court

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Pakistan to modify Army Act, to allow Kulbhushan Jadhav to appeal in civilian court

As per reports, the Imran Khan government is all set to modify its Army Act. Pakistan is amending its law to enable Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav to appeal against his death sentence in a civilian court.
The reported effort to amend the Army Act is the first step to comply with the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) direction to let Kulbhushan Jadhav file an appeal against the military court’s findings in a civilian court.

In the past, Kulbhushan Jadhav was tried by a military court under the Army Act that barred any intervention by civilian courts. Islamabad had also refused India consular access for Kulbhushan on claims that he had been charged with espionage and terror related offences.

But the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, earlier in July 2019, clearly stated that this was a violation of the Vienna Convention. They pronounced that consular access was his right. The ICJ had also ordered Islamabad to carry out an effective “review and reconsideration” of his conviction at an appropriate forum of Islamabad’s choice.

In 2017, Kulbhushan Jadhav was convicted by a military court in Pakistan and sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism. The punishment was awarded by the Field General Court Martial (FGCM), a military court consisting of Pakistan Army officers. (It is not mandatory for the judges on FGCM to possess any specialisation in law.)

Pakistan had claimed that Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested from Balochistan. India has, however, maintained that Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was kidnapped by Pakistan’s security forces when he was in Iran on a business trip.

The death sentence was awarded to Jadhav, after a closed trial in April 2017 charged him with espionage and terrorism.

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