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