HC reserves order on PIL for protection of Ambedkar belongings

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today reserved its order on a PIL seeking a direction to the Centre to protect and maintain over 400 artefacts and articles belonging to Constitution-framer Bhim Rao Ambedkar which are lying in a private museum in Maharashtra.

Bhim Rao Ambedkar
 Bhim Rao Ambedkar 

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw said that they "will pass an order on who has to do that". The petition said that the department concerned of Shantivan museum has written to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) several times seeking funds for maintenance of these objects or requesting ASI to preserve these articles. However, ASI is yet to take any concrete action in protecting these articles, it claimed.

The PIL, filed by Mithilesh Kumar Pandey through his advocate Ajit Sharma, alleged that though the Minister of Culture and Tourism in 2008 had directed ASI to preserve these articles of national importance, action is yet to be taken. The court during the brief hearing said, "Why don't you hand over these articles to the National Museum." "You (petitioner) offer all this things to the National Museum. Is it that you are trying to make money out of this? The difficulty is that you do not want to hand it over," the court said, adding that "write a letter to them (Centre) to take it over."

The counsel for the Centre, also representing ASI, said that the Maharashtra government is the correct body to look into it and provide any kind of money assistance. "We (Centre) have no difficulties in providing any technical assistance," the government counsel said.

Over 400 articles belonging to Ambedkar have been lying at the private museum at Nagpur and they are in stages of spoilage and destruction due to non-availability of adequate funds for their funds, the PIL claimed. It also said that if these articles are not protected immediately, they may be lost forever for posterity.

"Article 49 of the Constitution, part of the Directive Principles of State Policy, expressly provide that it shall be the obligation of the state to protect every object of artistic or historical interest from spoilage, disfigurement, destruction, disposal etc," the plea said. The petitioner has made Union of India, ASI, Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, Nagpur Improvement Trust, Indian Buddhist Council Shantivan and a private news channel party in the case.

It further said that "the technology available for preserving the clothes, manuscripts and articles of Ambedkar is with the government only and is otherwise unavailable to the various trusts involved in conservation of Ambedkar's articles".

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