New Delhi (Sputnik) — India's apex body on information transparency, the Central Information Commission (CIC), has asked the government to reveal its action plan to bring back the famed Kohinoor diamond from Britain.
The CIC asked the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Ministry of External Affairs to disclose to the public the steps taken by it so far after it received a Right to Information (RTI) query from a citizen named B.K.S.R. Ayyangar.
The Kohinoor diamond, which was allegedly taken away by the British colonial rulers when they left India, initially adorned the crowns of many queens of Britain before being put on public display at the Jewel House of the Tower of London.
B.K.S.R. Ayyangar had himself earlier approached the External Affairs Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office, but his query was turned down and he was instead redirected to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The ASI, in its reply, said that it can take up the issue of retrieval only of those antiquities that have been illegally exported out of the country in violation of the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act of 1972, which became operational in 1976. The ASI further said that so far 25 antiquities have been retrieved from various other countries between 2014 and 2017, but the Kohinoor diamond from Britain is not part of that list.
"They legitimately belonged to India and people of past, present and future generations are interested in repossessing them," the CIC said in the order directing the higher offices, including that of the prime minister, to let the public know of the efforts so far.
Two years ago, the Indian government had told the country's apex court that the diamond Kohinoor could not be described as stolen or illegally exported as it was gifted to the British by Duleep Singh, the son of the legendary Sikh King Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Since then, the government has sought to review its position, keeping in mind the outrage in the country over what was seen as an attempt to relinquish India's claims over Kohinoor — one of the largest cut diamonds in the world.
"It is the UK government's view that there aren't any legal grounds for restitution of the diamond," said Alok Sharma, Britain's minister for Asia and the Pacific said last year.
The demands to retrieve the Kohinoor from the possession of the British royals have been a long-standing demand by various Indian entities.
It is too late for Namo to cancel his visit to UK for the Commonwealth conference. But he should resolve never again to go. Commonwealth is an insult to our freedom struggle— to accept a hereditary Chm i.e., British Queen who refuses to return the Kohinoor and the other loot— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) April 8, 2018