The Supreme Court today dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking cancellation of the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan while observing that it has found no merit in the plea. The plea, which was filed by a Delhi-based lawyer ML Sharma, has said that the treaty is unconstitutional.
“Not finding any merit in the PIL of Sharma. We do not want to interfere,” an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar said. Sharma in his plea urged the top court for cancelling the treaty on the ground that it was not a valid document.
The treaty was signed on September 19, 1960, by India’s first prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan’s President Ayub Khan. However, Sharma says the treaty is invalid as it was signed by Nehru and Khan, adding that it should have been signed by the President of India.
Last year, the Supreme Court refused to grant an urgent hearing on the PIL plea, saying there was no urgency in the matter, while asking Sharma to “keep politics aside”.
Sharma, in his plea, had referred to Article 77 of the Constitution and said it mandated that all executive action of the government shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the President.
The agreement covers six rivers – the three eastern rivers of Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and their tributaries and the three western rivers of Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and their tributaries. Water from the eastern rivers has been allocated to India, and New Delhi is obligated to let 80 percent water from the western rivers flow to Pakistan.
The treaty gives the lower riparian Pakistan more ‘than four times’ the water available to India.