Can't order UK to return Kohinoor: Court
Refusing to monitor government efforts for getting the Kohinoor back to India from the United Kingdom, the Supreme Court on Friday said the court cannot order the diamond's return or say that the UK should not auction it.
"We are quite surprised as to how an Indian court can pass an order to bring something which is in the UK," a bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said while dismissing a public interest litigation filed by All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front.
"Can we say England should not auction some property," the bench asked and refused the plea for the court to monitor diplomatic efforts made by the Centre to ensure the return of the diamond now studded in the British crown.
The court can't monitor diplomatic efforts, the bench said as the petitioner-NGO said that the court should monitor government's diplomatic efforts to get back the diamond.
On May 9, 2016, the government told the Lok Sabha that the External Affairs Ministry was exploring ways to ensure a satisfactory resolution to the vexed Kohinoor issue with the British government.
Disposing of the petitions filed by All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front as well as Heritage Bengal, the apex court said it was satisfied with the government's response that it was making efforts to get the diamond back.
Initially the Centre took the position that the British East India Company did not take away the Kohinoor diamond but it was gifted to Britain by Maharaja Duleep Singh. Later, the government said it will take steps to bring back the diamond in an "amicable manner".
The shift in the Centre's stand came after the Supreme Court on April 18, 2016, said that if the apex court accepted the government position that the diamond was gifted to Britain and dismissed the PIL, all future avenues for staking any legitimate claim over the Kohinoor will be shut.
The 108-carat Kohinoor, adorning the British monarch's crown, is kept under tight security at the Tower of London.
It 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.