Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Last Update : 01:48 AM IST

  India   All India  22 Apr 2017  Supreme Court: Can’t order UK to return Kohinoor

Supreme Court: Can’t order UK to return Kohinoor

Published : Apr 22, 2017, 1:26 am IST
Updated : Apr 22, 2017, 1:26 am IST

It said that it is a known fact that Kohinoor was duplicitously confiscated by the East India company in 1849 from Maharaja Duleep Singh.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: Accepting the Centre’s submission that it was exploring ways and means to bring back Kohinoor diamond, which is in the possession of the United Kingdom, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to give any direction in this regard.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, disposed of petitions which apprehended that the diamond will be sold in auctions, saying the court cannot do much in this issue and the government was anyways taking diplomatic measures get it back.

The CJI told counsel for the petitioners, “See diplomatic measures cannot be under any supervision. Can a court in India pass any order asking any country to return something?”  

Justice Khehar said: “We are quite surprised how can an Indian court pass an order to bring something which is in the UK.”

The CJI pointed out that the Centre’s affidavit clearly says “though it is not possible to make them return the diamond we will continue to explore it. Yes they say it is not possible but through diplomatic channels it may be possible. What kind of petitions you are filing. We are satisfied with the Centre’s reply and nothing further needs to be done.”

Giving the historical background, the Centre said the Kohinoor was found in Kollur mines in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh by one Mir Jumia, Golgonda general, and was presented by him to Shah Jahan in an uncut form. After passing through several dynasties ruling India, in 1813 it came into possession of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of Punjab. There is no doubt that this diamond is of Indian origin.

It said that it is a known fact that Kohinoor was duplicitously confiscated by the East India company in 1849 from Maharaja Duleep Singh, who was then a minor. The said diamond represents the sentiments of the people of India and therefore the matter of bringing back this diamond is being raised from time to time since Independence and efforts to retrieve the same may be viewed in the light of its ownership. It also made it clear that the credentials of India regarding ownership of Kohinoor based on historical facts and evidence cannot be doubted. 

Since taking away of Kohinoor pre-dates the entry into force of the UNESCO Convention (under which export or transfer of antiquities are prohibited), there is no binding legal basis in international law in this case. The only recourse is to explore the possibility of seeking the return of illicitly transferred/taken cultural property through negotiation/agreement with the foreign country concerned.

On the petitioner’s averment that there are attempts to sell the Kohinoor diamond through auction, the Centre said they have no official information regarding attempts to sell this piece of art and craft.  The government is mindful of the sentiments that have been expressed by the Indian public and Parliament from time to time about the return of Kohinoor diamond and other items of India and it will explore all ways to get back the diamond, the Centre said.

Tags: kohinoor diamond, supreme court, unesco
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi