Govt seeks to stop future auctions of Gandhi’s items

With an aim of preventing auction of items belonging to Mahatma Gandhi in future,government is finalising plans to move courts abroad.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published:March 8, 2009 12:41 pm

With an aim of preventing auction of items belonging to Mahatma Gandhi in future,government is finalising plans to move courts abroad.

“We are planning to obtain advance injunctions in foreign countries against possible sale or auction of Gandhi items in future on the grounds that each such item legally belonged to the Navjivan Trust,as per Gandhiji’s own will,” a senior Culture Ministry official said.

Advance injunctions would be obtained in those countries which have major auction centres.

“We want to pre-empt any auction of Gandhi items in the future by making it known that selling or buying these heritage articles is illegal. According to our plan,we will move courts in the US,UK,Germany and France first,” the official said.

Culture Ministry is preparing the draft in close coordination with the ministries of law and external affairs.

“We are in the process of finalising the draft and once it is finalised government will move courts abroad,” the official said.

Five Gandhi items — metal-rimmed spectacle,a Zenith pocket watch,a brass plate and a bowl and sandals — were auctioned off by Antiquorum Auctioneers in New York on March 5 despite the government’s attempt to stall the auction.

The latest auction in the US is the second such incident where government had to intervene to bring back Mahatma Gandhi memorabilia from foreign countries.

Earlier,government had intervened to procure a letter written by Gandhi a few days before his assassination from the London auction house Christie in 2007.

“There is a need to stop such practice of selling or auctioning any object belonging to Gandhi because no one has the right to do this and Gandhiji himself had written against it in his will,” the official said.

India is of the view that the Navjivan Trust,founded by Gandhi himself is the custodian of all properties belonging to the Mahatma.

Gandhi in his will stated “I do not believe that I have any property. Nevertheless anything which by social convention or in law is considered mine,movable or immovable… I endow as my heirs the Navjivan Trust,whom I declare as my heirs.”

“All items belonging to Mahatma Gandhi which have been spirited away,should be restored to the Navjivan Trust. Even if Gandhi had gifted an item to a specific person or institution during his lifetime,those articles should not be used for commercial gain,” the official added.

Culture Ministry is also trying to make a database of Gandhi memorabilia scattered all over the country and abroad.

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