Twelve requests by India over the last year for "unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional" access to Kulbhushan Jadhav have not been fulfilled by Pakistan despite being directed to do so by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
In a statement issued on Thursday evening, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Indian officials were not given "unimpeded access" to Jadhav, denying Pakistan's claims of consular access.
Pakistan earlier in the day claimed it had provided consular access to Jadhav, on death row, days after Islamabad claimed that he has refused to file an appeal in a court here against his conviction by a military court.
"The consular officers were not given unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access to Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan," said the MEA. "On the contrary, Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Jadhav and Consular Officers despite the protests of the Indian side."
"It was also evident from a camera that was visible that the conversation with Jadhav was being recorded. He was visibly under stress and indicated that clearly to the Consular Officers. The arrangements did not permit a free conversation between them," it added.
The MEA statement came after a report sent by India’s Charge de Affaires in Islamabad, Gaurav Ahluwalia, who went to meet Jadhav with another Indian High Commission official on Thursday afternoon. The Pakistani side had assured India of meeting set conditions for the consular access but “neither the environment nor the arrangements of the meeting were in accordance with the assurances of Pakistan”, said the Indian statement. The Indian officials then lodged a protest and left the venue.
But the two officials were inside the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) for over two-and-a-half hours. Sources had told CNN-News 18 that it was important to hear from the officials whether the “conditions” for consular access were met, otherwise it wouldn’t be considered as one.
"The Consular Officers could not engage Kulbhushan Jadhav on his legal rights and were prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation," said the MEA. "In the light of these circumstances, the Indian Consular Officers came to the conclusion that the consular access being offered by Pakistan was neither meaningful nor credible. After lodging a protest, they left the venue."
India has been stressing and underlined once again that any conversation with Jadhav had to be conducted in privacy without it being recorded so that neither is there any threat of intimidation nor fear of retribution. Moreover, to prepare defence arguments for Jadhav as part of a free, fair and transparent trial, it was important that he could freely talk to the officials. However, that was not possible.
"It is clear that Pakistan’s approach to this matter continues to be obstructive and insincere. It has not only violated its assurance to the International Court of Justice to fully implement the 2019 judgement, but also failed to act in accordance with its own Ordinance," added the MEA.
In its press release on Thursday, Pakistan said it provided “unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access”. This came after last week’s surprise announcement claiming that Jadhav had refused to file a review petition. Pakistan had passed an ordinance in May saying it would comply with the ICJ ruling of 2019. Jadhav's 60 days to file his review petition will end on July 20.
But Indian government sources said they had the option of going back to inform the ICJ that Pakistan was not fulfilling the conditions of the court ruling. “In a brazen attempt to scuttle even the inadequate remedy under the Ordinance, Pakistan has obviously coerced Jadhav to forego his rights to seek an implementation of the judgment of the ICJ,” Srivastava had said last week.