Institutions do matter in managing water scarcity. Institutional reforms in water sector in recent years have tried to replace the existing 'command-and-control approach' with more innovative and comprehensive marketbased approach. Based on a comprehensive literature review, this paper highlights various issues involved in marketbased institutional reforms in the water sector in various countries. This paper finds that even though there are some problems, the market-based institutional reforms are capable of generating relatively higher benefits through efficient, equitable and sustainable water allocation mechanisms. This paper also provides policy suggestions on introducing market-based instruments formally in the water sector in the Indian context.