The Indian government has told the Supreme Court that it should not try to reclaim the priceless Koh-i-noor diamond from Britain.
The gemstone came into British hands in the mid-19th Century, and forms part of the Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London. Ownership of the famous gem is an emotional issue for many Indians, who believe it was stolen by the British. But the solicitor-general said it was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken”.
Ranjit Kumar said the 105-carat diamond had been “gifted” to the East India company by the former rulers of Punjab in 1849. The case is being heard by the Supreme Court after an Indian NGO filed a petition asking the court to direct the Indian government to bring back the diamond.
The court is still considering the issue, and said it did not want to dismiss the petition as it could “stand in the way” of future attempts to bring back items that once belonged to India.
Mr Kumar, representing the Indian government, said he would consult with the foreign minister on the issue and frame a response within six weeks, the Times of India newspaper reported.
Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, said a few years ago that it should be returned as “atonement for the colonial past”.
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