NEW DELHI: India has refused to accept the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling that it was competent to look into Pakistan’s case about the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects under the Indus Waters Treaty.
The Hague-based Court of Arbitration gave an award on Monday on a 2016 case brought by Pakistan under Article IX and Annexure G of the Indus Waters Treaty. India asked the World Bank for appointment of a Neutral Expert on the same matter in the same year.
In December 2016, World Bank paused the process of appointing the Chairman of the Court of Arbitration and Neutral Expert. The embargo was removed after six years and both the processes – Court of Arbitration and Neutral Expert – were instituted.
Ahead of the first meeting, India sent a letter in December 2022 to the World Bank expressing doubt over the competence of the Court of Arbitration. This letter was then conveyed to the Court of Arbitration. India didn’t take part in CoA’s proceedings and also did not exercise its right to appoint two arbitrators to the panel.
Based on India’s objections in the letter, the Court of Arbitration observed in a press release that it could adjudicate on the matter.
“In a unanimous decision, which is binding on the Parties and without appeal, the Court rejected each of the objections raised by India and determined that the Court is competent to consider and determine the disputes set forth in Pakistan’s Request for Arbitration,” said the press release of the PCA.
India’s Ministry of External affairs responded that it has been New Delhi’s “consistent and principled” position that the “constitution of the so-called Court of Arbitration is in contravention of the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty”.
A MEA press note asserted that “India cannot be compelled to recognise or participate in illegal and parallel proceedings not envisaged by the Treaty”.
It noted that the Indian government is in talks with Pakistan “regarding the modification of the Indus Waters Treaty under Article XII (3) of the Treaty”. “This recent development only underlines why such modification is so necessary,” added MEA press release.
India asserted that a Neutral Expert is already “seized” of the dispute related to Kishenganga and Ratle projects. “The Neutral Expert proceedings are the only Treaty-consistent proceedings at this juncture. The Treaty does not provide for parallel proceedings on the same set of issues”
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