New Delhi: India should not try to reclaim the famous Kohinoor diamond as it was neither stolen nor forcibly taken, the government said today. That stand, the Supreme Court has warned, could mean "You will face a problem in the future for making any legitimate claim" to the 105-carat diamond.
- Kohinoor diamond neither stolen nor forcibly taken: Government in court
- Shouldn't try to reclaim it, was handed over to East India Company: Govt
- Will face problem making a legitimate claim to it in future, warns court
The top court has been petitioned by an organisation named the All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front which wants the Kohinoor and other famous antiques including the ring and sword of Tipu Sultan to be returned to India by the United Kingdom.
The Kohinoor, which means "Mountain of Light", was acquired from an Afghan king by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the 19th century ruler of Punjab. He willed it to a temple in Odisha, but Dilip Singh, his successor, a minor, handed it over in 1849 to the East India company, the government said.
The diamond was set in a crown for Queen Victoria and is on display in the Tower of London.
For years, politicians and others, here and in the UK, have said the whopper of a diamond was seized after Punjab was annexed to British India and must be returned.
The Foreign Ministry, which is also party to the case, has yet to outline its position. The judges have asked the centre for a comprehensive response within six weeks.
In 2013, during a trip to India, UK Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out sending the diamond back to India. "I think I am afraid to say, to disappoint all your viewers, it is going to have to stay put," he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
The crown that has the Kohinoor "has only been worn by female royals... because it is said to be unlucky for men to do so," says the Daily Mail.
If Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William, who is second in line to the throne, eventually becomes queen consort, she will don the crown holding the diamond on official occasions.
In a Supreme Court hearing last week, the government said a 43-year-old law does not allow it to bring back antiques moved out of the country before Independence.