Ko­hi­noor was Gifted to Bri­tish, Not Stolen: Modi Govt in Apex Court

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

stak­ing such claims may lead to other coun­tries mak­ing sim­i­lar de­mands on their arts and arte­facts in In­dia.

Chief Jus­tice TS Thakur, head­ing the bench hear­ing the pe­ti­tion, re­sponded, telling the govern­ment’s No. 2 law of­fi­cer that In­dia had never been a coloniser or had col­lected arte­facts or trea­sures from other coun­tries. “What are you wor­ried about,” Jus­tice Thakur asked the SG, even as he told Kumar to get back to the court with the govern­ment’s of­fi­cial stand on get­ting back all such In­dian arte­facts from abroad. Dur­ing ar­gu­ments on Mon­day, Kumar told the court that the heirs of Ma­haraja Ran­jit Singh had given the Ko­hi­noor to the East In­dia Com­pany as com­pen­sa­tion for wars. The stand caused quite a stir in the court and out­side, with his­to­ri­ans won­der­ing about the au­then­tic­ity of the claim. Some said Duleep Singh, the youngest son of Ma­haraja Ran­jit Sing­hand­who­hand­edthe­di­a­mond over to the Bri­tish, was a mi­nor at the time and might have been co­erced into part­ing with it.

If there is a le­git­i­mate claim, the court can­not close the mat­ter, the CJI said. “We might say that since it in­volves an­other sov­er­eign govern­ment, we dis­miss it. But it will not help you.” Such a court de­ci­sion may make the re­cov­ery of other arte­facts also im­pos­si­ble, he said. The SG then agreed to place the views of the cul­ture and for­eign min­istries in the court. The CJI asked the govern­ment to come out with a well thought-out pol­icy which would ad­dress all is­sues in­volved and their fall­out. When he re­ferred to the re­turn of the Sword of Tipu Sul­tan to In­dia, the SG said it was bought in an auc­tion by a per­son who was no longer in In­dia. Vi­jay Mallya, who brought the sword back to In­dia af­ter buy­ing it in a 2003 pri­vate ac­tion in Lon­don, left In­dia last mon­theve­nashe­was­be­ingchasedby banks for non-pay­ment of loans.

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