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India may serve legal notice

india Updated: Jun 29, 2007 17:33 IST

India is contemplating serving a legal notice on British auction house Christie's to stop sale of a rare manuscript of Mahatma Gandhi written 19 days before his assassination in 1948.

The Indian High Commission in London is likely to serve the legal notice on Christie's to stop its auction on July three, sources told PTI.

The notice will be served on the recommendation of Culture Ministry which argues that the manuscript cannot be sold as its copywright is with the Ahmedabad-based Navjiwan Trust.

"We are contemplating serving a legal notice on Christie's explaining to them that as the copywright of all Gandhiji's writings are with the Navjiwan Trust they cannot sell the letter," sources said.

"As the ownership of the manuscript is with the Trust, it cannot belong to a private collector. The auction house has no right to sell it in these circumstances," the sources added.

Gandhiji willed all his letters, writings and books to the trust, they pointed out.

The manuscript was written by the Father of the Nation 19 days before his assassination for the 'Harijan' publication edited by him on January 11, 1948. In the article, the Mahatma had pleaded for tolerance towards Muslims. MORE

He advocated the importance of Urdu and said any boycott of the script would be a wanton affront to the Muslims of India.

The letter is estimated to be sold at around 12,000 pounds.

Sources said the manuscript is a rough draft of a handwritten article, which was later typed for the 'Harijan'.

In a similar move in 1997, the Indian High Commission had served a legal notice on a auction house for selling a letter of Gandhiji. Later, the auction house withdrew the letter and handed over the letter to the trust.