U.N. tribunal awards Dhaka 19,467 sq. km of 25,602 sq. km sea area of Bay of Bengal

The much-awaited verdict on the dispute regarding the delimitation of the maritime boundary between India and Bangladesh was delivered on Monday, with a United Nations tribunal awarding Bangladesh 19,467 sq. km of the 25,602 sq. km sea area of the Bay of Bengal.

The arbitral tribunal had informed both the parties of the verdict on Monday but an embargo prevented it from being made public before 24 hours. The content of the verdict of the long-standing dispute was announced by Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali at a press briefing here on Tuesday.

The verdict of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) came after nearly five years of arguments and counter-arguments, spot visit by judges and examination of survey reports. Bangladesh Ambassador to the Netherlands Sheikh Mohammed Belal and Indian Ambassador in The Hague, Rajesh Nandan Prasad, received the copies of the verdict.

The tribunal verdict is binding on all parties and there is no option for appeal. However, according to the rules of procedures, if any party needs any interpretation of the verdict, it can make a request to the court within 30 days of receiving the verdict and the interpretation would be made available within 45 days.

Bangladesh went in for arbitration over the delimitation of maritime boundary under the United Nations Convention on Law of Sea (UNCLOS) on October 8 2009.The court concluded its hearings on December 18, 2013 in The Hague.

The argument focussed on issues including the location of the land boundary terminus, delimitation of the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and the continental shelf within and beyond 200 nautical miles.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Mahmud Ali said: “This is a victory of friendship between Bangladesh and India. The maritime dispute between the two countries has come to an end following the verdict.” The verdict would take the relationship between the two countries “one step forward,” he added.

During External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visit to Dhaka, spokesperson of the Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said both the countries would act in accordance with the verdict since they went to the court voluntarily.

“We are committed to abiding by the outcome of that process, the spokesperson had said.