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Kohinoor not stolen, gifted to UK: Govt tells Apex Court

Government on Monday told the Supreme Court that Kohinoor diamond was neither “forcibly taken” nor “stolen” by British rulers but given to the East India Company by the rulers of Punjab.

“Kohinoor cannot said to be forcibly taken or stolen as it was given by the successors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to East India Company in 1849 as compensation for helping them in the Sikh wars,” Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur.

The apex court then asked whether the government was willing to stake a claim to the Kohinoor, one of the most valuable diamonds in the world. The Solicitor General told the apex court that the demand to get back Kohinoor have been raised time and again in Parliament.

“If we claim our treasures like Kohinoor from other countries, every other nation will start claiming their items from us. There will be nothing left in our museums,” Solicitor General said. He said this was the stand of Ministry of Culture while the response from Ministry of External Affairs, which is also a party, is awaited.

The bench, also comprising Justice U U Lalit, then asked the Solicitor General to file a detailed reply within six weeks.

“We would like to know if there is a claim the government wants to make? See, we are not inclined to dismiss this plea.

If we dismiss it, that country (United Kingdom) may say that your Supreme Court has rejected the plea and it may lead to denial of the government’s legitimate claim.

“You cannot afford dismissal as it may be treated as an obstruction in your way. You formulate a response and file it in six weeks,” the bench observed.

The apex court had asked the government to clarify its stand on a PIL seeking return of Kohinoor diamond to the country.
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