HC seeks report on steps taken for digitisation of art objects

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has called for a status report from the Centre on the steps taken to digitise all art objects at the National Museum here for their preservation.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar gave the direction to the Ministry of Culture on a petition alleging that several Indian antiquities had gone missing and valuable manuscripts lost from the National Museum. The bench directed the authorities to place a status report setting out the steps taken to ensure compliance with the recommendations of the Expert Committee.
"Such a report shall be filed within four weeks," the bench said and fixed the matter for January 30 next year.
The direction came on a PIL filed by an ex-employee of the museum, who said that an experts' committee, set up in 2005 in pursuance to the high court order, had recommended certain steps, including digitisation of all art objects, but nothing has been done so far to implement the recommendations.
The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by R S Atal has alleged that the art objects were preserved in a very "shabby" manner with no proper preservation system in place.
The plea said "the National Museum is the custodian of Indian antiquities collected for over hundreds of year from different parts of the country".
"Its protection and preservation is the prime duty of the National Museum and their security is very, very important in national interest. However, these art objects are preserved in a very shabby manner with no proper system of their preservation, because of which many objects have either been replaced, stolen or destroyed".
The PIL said that an Audit Report of 2011 had also highlighted the "irregularities" in the historic museum.
"The National Museum is duty-bound to complete digitisation of all art objects whether in General Accession Register (GAR) or Classified Accession Register (CAR) including that of all precious jewellery lying therein," the plea said and sought a direction for implementation of the recommendation made by the experts' committee. Referring to another suggestion of the committee, the PIL said some art objects have been missing and an inquiry has to be ordered.
"Issue an appropriate order or a direction instituting an inquiry into the loss of valuable manuscripts ... replacement of precious artifacts including purchase of fake objects ...
(like) purchase of fake 'Axe of Nadir Shah'," the plea has said.
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