New Delhi: The central government on Monday told the Supreme Court that the British East India Company did not take away the Kohinoor diamond but it was gifted to Britain by Maharaja Duleep Singh.
The government stand on the matter was conveyed to the bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit in response to a public interest litigation by an NGO, All India Human Rights and Social Justice Forum, seeking directions to the government to make efforts for getting the diamond back to India.
Koh-i-noor was presented to Queen Victoria during the British Raj in India. It is now set in a crown belonging to the queen’s mother on public display in the Tower of London. Pics/AFP
The court, while giving the government six more weeks, said that if it accepted the government position and dismissed the PIL, all future avenues for staking any legitimate claim over the diamond will be shut.
The court gave the time as Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told it that the stand was that of the cultural affairs ministry but the "ministry of external affairs is also a party and their response is yet to come".
The 108-carat diamond was presented to the then British monarch, Queen Victoria, in 1850 after the Anglo-Sikh wars, in which Britain gained control over the Sikh empire in the then undivided Punjab.
Reacting to the development, Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said: "People are emotionally attached with the Kohinoor and it is not a mere stone for them. The then government tried to bring it back in 1953 also but the efforts did not fructify. Nonetheless, the government should not give up and must continue with its efforts to bring the Kohinoor back to India."