India has expressed its refusal to participate in the “illegal” proceedings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration regarding the Kishenganga and Ratle hydropower projects in Kashmir. This comes after the tribunal based in The Hague ruled that it possesses the authority to address the dispute between India and Pakistan on the matter.
The Indian government has maintained its stance of not joining the Pakistan-initiated proceedings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, as the dispute is already being examined by a neutral expert under the framework of the Indus Waters Treaty. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi stated, “India cannot be compelled to recognize or participate in illegal and parallel proceedings not envisaged by the treaty.”
Earlier this year, India issued a notice to Pakistan, seeking a review and modification of the Indus Waters Treaty due to Islamabad’s failure to comply with the dispute redressal mechanism outlined in the agreement. The treaty, facilitated by the World Bank, was signed in 1960 to address matters related to cross-border rivers.
India argues that the initiation of two simultaneous processes to resolve the dispute violates the provisions of the three-step graded mechanism prescribed in the treaty. Bagchi highlighted that the constitution of the Court of Arbitration goes against the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, while the neutral expert proceedings align with the treaty’s requirements.
Bagchi emphasized that India has been participating in the “treaty-consistent” neutral expert proceedings, with the last meeting held at The Hague in February. The next meeting is scheduled for September. He also stressed the importance of modifying the Indus Waters Treaty, stating, “This recent development only underlines why such modification is so necessary.”
A statement from the Permanent Court of Arbitration confirmed that it had considered India’s objections to the court’s competence, raised through communications with the World Bank, another signatory to the Indus Waters Treaty. The court announced, “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.”
The court further stated that it would address questions concerning the interpretation and application of the treaty’s provisions on hydro-electric project design and operation, as well as the legal effect of past decisions made by dispute resolution bodies under the treaty.
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