The Supreme Court on Monday was requested to hear a plea challenging the constitutional and legal validity of the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan.
The petition was moved on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to chair a high-level meeting to look into the possibility of revisiting the water-sharing treaty.
“The meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi will be looking at the pros and cons of the pact,” a government official said on Sunday.
The already tense ties between the two countries have nosedived following the September 18 attack on an army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that left 18 soldiers dead.
India blames Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad for the worst strike against the army in a decade in the border state.
The government is under pressure to act against the neighbouring country and many want the Indus treaty, which is generous to Pakistan, to be revisited to pile pressure on Islamabad to mend its ways.
As the petitioner, advocate ML Sharma, asked the court to hear the his plea at an early date, a bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and justice AM Khanwilkar said it would come up in the normal course.
When Sharma again made the request, the court asked him where he was all these years.
Signed on September 19, 1960 by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan, the Indus treaty is one of the most liberal water-sharing pacts in the world.
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% water from the western rivers flow to Pakistan. The treaty gives the lower riparian Pakistan more “than four times” the water available to India.
The pact has survived three wars between the two countries and constant strain in their bilateral ties.
Sharma says the treaty is invalid as it was signed by Nehru and Khan. The treaty should have been signed by the President of India, he has said.
Reviewing treaty would be difficult for India as it can set off similar problems with China, the all-weather ally of Pakistan.