What Action Taken With Regard to Missing Artifacts From National Museum, HC Raps Centre
"The petition is pending since 2013 and you have still not done anything with regard to the missing artifacts. What action have you taken? You are a museum and you have not taken any care," the Hight court said.
File photo of Delhi High Court.
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre what action it has taken with regard to the alleged disappearance of artifacts from the National Museum.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar posed the query to the Ministry of Culture while hearing a PIL, filed in 2013, which alleged that several Indian antiquities had gone missing and valuable manuscripts lost from the museum.
"The petition is pending since 2013 and you have still not done anything with regard to the missing artifacts. What action have you taken? You are a museum and you have not taken any care," the court said.
The remarks from the bench came after it noted that the ministry had not till date addressed the allegation of missing artifacts raised in the petition.
When central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia, appearing for the ministry, told the bench that a status report will be filed on the issue, the court remarked,"You will in 2019 for the first time state what has happened with regard to the missing artifacts?"
"You (ministry) should have filed an affidavit on all the issues enumerated in the petition and not just on what the court has asked. You should have filed comprehensive reports by now. It appears your officers are not reading the pages (of the petition). You are unnecessarily wasting the court's time.
"This matter has been going on since 2013. Should we adjourn it to 2030. Is it required to give directions to the officers to read the papers of the petition to file a reply," the bench said.
It directed the ministry to file a comprehensive report covering all recommendations, like digitisation of art objects, made by a high court appointed committee for preservation of the artifacts and the steps taken to implement them. With the direction the court listed the matter for further hearing on September 25.
During the proceedings, Ahluwalia told the bench that digitisation process was ongoing and the museum has already digitised over 67,000 art objects and uploaded them on it website.
The court was hearing the plea by R S Atal, an ex-employee of the museum, who has said that an experts' committee, set up in 2005 in pursuance to a high court order, had recommended certain steps, including digitisation of all art objects, but nothing has been done so far.
The petition has alleged that the art objects were preserved in a very "shabby" manner with no proper preservation system in place.
The PIL has also said that an Audit Report of 2011 had also highlighted the "irregularities" in the historic museum.
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