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[UPDATE: Surprisingly, SC asks SG for view]: Britishers, give us back the Koh-i-Noor and other treasures, PIL to plead optimistically in SC today

India's never seen the diamond in the flesh, sang Lorde
India's never seen the diamond in the flesh, sang Lorde

Staking claim over the treasures lost ages ago, a public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed before the Supreme Court of India seeking a writ of mandamus to the ‘High Commissioner of United Kingdom' for returning the world famous Koh-i-Noor diamond and several other treasures belonging to various Indian rulers, books etc., which currently lie in the United Kingdom.

Update 12:12: Surprisingly, the Supreme Court bench has asked the solicitor general to give his view on the matter. Notice has not been issued.

The PIL filed by an organisation named 'All India Human Rights & Social Justice Front' will be heard by a bench comprising of Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, and Justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit today (8 April, 2016).

The petition has been filed through advocate-on-record Nafis Ahmad Siddiqui.

Along with High Commissioner of UK (Britain), the petitioner has also arrayed Union of India through Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Culture; High Commissioner of Islamic Republic of Pakistan in India and High Commissioner of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh as parties.

The petitioner organisation has also sought return of the Ring and Talwar of Tipu Sultan and other treasures of Tipu Sultan, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Rani of Jhansi, Nawab Mir Ahmad Ali Banda and other rulers of India.

Other than these, the petitioner has also sought the return of antiquities of art, craft and cultural pieces of historical importance and manuscript and books of historical importance which as per the petitioner are contained in the basement of Victoria and Albert Museum. The Petitioner has further sought the return of manuscript and books of historical importance kept in India Office Library.

Interestingly, Pakistan also claims a right over the Koh-i-noor and currently the Lahore High Court (LHC) is faced with a petition calling for the British Queen to hand over the famous 105-carat diamond to Pakistan.

The petitioner Javed Iqbal Jaffery, a British-trained lawyer, had contended that the diamond actually belongs to the territory which became a part of Pakistan after the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. Government of Pakistan submitted before the LHC that Britain's Queen Elizabeth-II cannot be made a respondent in the litigation and as per reports, LHC has reserved its verdict over the case.

The present PIL has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking a writ of mandamus against High Commissioner of UK (Britain).

As held by Supreme Court in various cases, a writ of mandamus can only be issued against a public authority to perform a public duty belonging to its office.

The High Commissioner of UK, an agency of the British Government, is not a public body.

Case No: Writ Petition (C) No. 185 of 2016

Case Title: All India Human Rights & Social Justice Front v. The High Commissioner of UK (Britain) & Ors.

Court 1, Item No. 13.

Photo by Chris 73

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