Dhaka’s Bay claim
Delhi submits memo to Hague courtShahidul Islam Chowdhury
India on Tuesday submitted a ‘counter-memorial’ to the Permanent Court on Arbitration in The Hague on its maritime boundary dispute with Bangladesh.
‘India has submitted the counter-memorial. The court is expected to make it available to us by early next week,’ a Bangladeshi diplomat told New Age on Wednesday.
Bangladesh lodged its statement of claim at the scheduled time (by May) in 2011.
India was scheduled to respond to Bangladesh’s claim by May 2012, but pleaded to the court to be given two months’ grace for going through the judgment of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea that settled the maritime dispute between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The ITLOS delivered the verdict on March 14.
Bangladesh and India approached the Permanent Court on Arbitration in 2009 to resolve the longstanding dispute over the maritime boundary in the oil- and gas-rich Bay.
However, Bangladesh and India have kept open the option for settling the maritime boundary dispute through bilateral negotiation.
Paragraph 21 of the joint communiqué, issued after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in 2010, says: ‘Both prime ministers agreed on the need to amicably demarcate the maritime boundary between India and Bangladesh.
‘They noted the initiation of proceedings under Annex VII of the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and, in this context, welcomed the visit of a delegation from Bangladesh to India.’
On March 17 this year, Indian high commissioner to Dhaka Pankaj Saran told reporters that India wants to resolve the maritime boundary dispute with Bangladesh bilaterally.
After a meeting with foreign minister Dipu Moni, Pankaj was asked by journalists if India would favour a bilateral settlement of the issue, he said, ‘I am sure we will.’
His comment came three days after Bangladesh got a verdict from the ITLOS settling the maritime dispute with Myanmar after 38 years.
India and Myanmar were in close contact while dealing with their maritime dispute with another Bangladesh, said the diplomat.
On March 19, Dipu Moni ruled out any possibility of withdrawing Bangladesh’s maritime boundary case against India, but said that bilateral negotiations could continue alongside arbitration on the basis of the principles set by the ITLOS.
‘There is no scope to withdraw the case because we went for arbitration since we did not get any solution through discussions with India,’ she had said at a press conference in the foreign ministry.
‘The door for discussions is open if they (India) want that, but the discussions are to be based on the ITLOS principles, ensuring Bangladesh’s legitimate rights,’ Dipu Moni stated.
The five-member arbitral court is expected to deliver its verdict in 2014. The judgment will be final and without appeal.
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