The government has told the Supreme Court that Kohinoor diamond is India’s property but international conventions as well as the laws restrain it from making a rightful claim for its return from Britain.
Submitting its affidavit on Tuesday, the government said it is, however, devising ways and means as to whether the diamond could be brought back based on any agreement with the foreign country.
Stating that there was no concrete evidence to show that the diamond was validly gifted to Queen Victoria, the affidavit added that the government was mindful of the Indian public sentiment attached with the gem.
However, the government said it did not have many legal options and would have to resort to diplomatic relations to seek its retrieval from Britain.
About the applicability of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, the government pointed out the country of origin of the antique could not invoke its right of retrieval if the article had left the country before the law came into force.
Also the UNESCO convention, the affidavit said, could not come to the aid since the convention was signed by the two countries much later than the diamond said to have been taken away.
Similarly both India and UK are signatories to the UNESCO convention that prevents museums from acquiring cultural property belonging to another national or that has been illegally imported.
The government is responding to a notice by a bench led by Chief Justice T S Thakur which wanted to know whether the Indian government was taking any steps to retrieve the diamond. A PIL has been filed to instruct the government to ask for its return from the British High Commissioner.