The lower house of Parliament approved the 2020 ICJ (review and reconsideration) bill on Thursday. The bill aims to allow Jadhav to have consular access according to the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) .
Jadhav, the 51-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on espionage and terrorism charges in April 2017.
India addressed the ICJ against Pakistan for denying Jadhav consular access and defying the death sentence. The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan must carry out an “effective review and reconsideration” of Jadhav’s conviction and sentence and also grant consular access to India without further delay.
The ICJ, in its 2019 verdict, had asked Pakistan to provide an adequate forum to appeal against Jadhav’s judgment.
The bill was one of 21 laws passed by the National Assembly on Thursday night, ignoring protests from opposition lawmakers who wanted a proper reading of the bills. But the government suspended the business rules regarding the legislation to overturn 21 laws in a single session.
Speaking after the passage of the bill, Law Minister Farogh Nasim said that if they had not passed the bill, India would have gone to the UN Security Council and could have filed contempt proceedings against Pakistan at the ICJ. .
Nasim said the bill was being passed in light of the ICJ verdict that had asked Pakistan to provide a credible review opportunity for Jadhav. He said that, bypassing the law, they had shown the world that Pakistan was a “responsible state.”
The National Assembly also passed 20 other bills, including the Elections (Amendment) Bill.
Opponents went on strike and signaled the lack of a quorum on three occasions, but each time the president declared the House in order and continued business, forcing the Opposition to resort to noisy protests. Members of the Opposition gathered in front of the Spokesman’s podium and raised slogans.
Criticizing the government’s move, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal noted that he had put the bill on the heavy legislative agenda to bring relief to Jadhav.
Iqbal said it was a specific bill for one person and Jadhav’s name was mentioned in the Bill of Objects and Reasons Statement.
He said that when the law of the land allowed the higher courts to review the sentences handed down by the military courts, then what was the need to carry the law.
The Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, asked the president to give members some time to see the bills.
He criticized the government for first introducing the bill to provide relief to Jadhav through an ordinance and then passing it by demolishing the legislation.
The bill was introduced last year and approved by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice on October 21 despite protests from the committee’s opposition members.
Technically, passing the bill makes no difference, as the government already enacted a special ordinance in May 2020 to implement the ICJ verdict.
The government has also filed a review in the Islamabad High Court that repeatedly asked the Indian government to appoint a lawyer to represent Jadhav to conclude the review case.
Passing the bill in the National Assembly is just one step towards finalizing the law.
Now it will be presented in the Senate and if it is approved by the upper house, without any amendment, it will go to the president for final approval.
If the Senate approved it with an amendment, it will go back to the National Assembly to approve it with the changes.
In the event that a consensus is not generated between the two chambers, a joint session will be held to approve the bill by simple majority.