INDIA’S Supreme Court said today (April 21) it cannot pass an order for reclaiming the Kohinoor from the United Kingdom or to stop the precious jewel from being auctioned.
Disposing of a plea seeking directions to bring back the treasured diamond to India, a bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said it cannot ask a foreign government not to auction a property.
The court made it clear it could not pass an order with regard to a property which was in another country.
“We are quite surprised that such petitions are filed for properties which are in the USA and the UK. What kind of a writ petition is this?” the bench, also comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and SK Kaul, said.
The top court referred to an affidavit filed by the Indian government and said “the Government of India continues to explore ways and means with the UK government on the issue”.
The petitions were filed by a non-government organisation (NGO), the All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front, and Heritage Bengal, a registered organisation.
Their pleas said since India’s independence in 1947, successive governments “have made little or no attempt to bring back the Kohinoor diamond from United Kingdom to India, the place of its origin.”
The Indian government has previously told the Supreme Court that the Koh-i-noor was neither “forcibly taken” nor “stolen” by British rulers, but given to the East India Company by the rulers of Punjab.
When the supreme court asked if the government was willing to stake a claim to the Koh-i-noor, the Indian government said the demand had been raised several times in Parliament.
The 108-carat gem, which fell into British hands during the Raj, is the subject of a historic ownership dispute and claimed by at least four countries including India.
Sikh king Ranjit Singh had taken the diamond from an Afghan king who had sought sanctuary in India. It is now set in the crown that was worn by the Queen’s mother until her death in 2002 and is on public display in the Tower of London.