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Kohinoor can’t be brought back to Pakistan: Govt tells Lahore HC

world Updated: Apr 27, 2016 01:36 IST
Kohinoor diamond

The Kohinoor, or "mountain of light," diamond, set in the Maltese Cross at the front of the crown made for Britain's late Queen Elizabeth, is seen on her coffin.(AP File Photo)

The 108-carat famed Kohinoor diamond cannot be brought back to Pakistan as it was handed over to the UK under the ‘Treaty of Lahore’ in 1849, provincial Punjab government told the high court in Lahore on Tuesday.

“Maharaja Ranjeet Singh had inked the agreement with the East India Company in 1849 under which the precious diamond was given to the UK. Therefore, the UK government cannot be approached for return of the diamond,” a law officer of the provincial government told the court during the hearing of a plea seeking direction for the Pakistan government to bring back the Kohinoor.

India too has also been trying to get the diamond back from the UK for years.

Petitioner barrister, Javed Iqbal Jaffrey, opposed the government’s plea, arguing, “Both governments were not authorised under the law of the land to sign such an agreement.”

LHC Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan directed the government’s counsel to submit a copy of the agreement between then Maharaja, Ranjit Singh, and the East India Company on the next hearing on May 2.

In his plea, Jaffrey alleged that Britain had snatched the diamond from Daleep Singh, grandson of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and took it to the United Kingdom.

“The diamond became part of the crown of incumbent Queen Elizabeth-II at the time of her crowing in 1953. Queen Elizabeth has no right on the Kohinoor diamond, which weighs 105 carats and is worth billions of rupees,” he said.

He claimed that Kohinoor diamond was a “cultural heritage” of Punjab province and its citizens owned it, requesting the court to direct the federal government to bring the diamond back to Pakistan from the British government.

The Indian government had recently said it will make all efforts to bring back the valued diamond, even as it had earlier told the Supreme Court that the diamond was neither stolen nor “forcibly” taken by British rulers but given to East India Company by erstwhile rulers of Punjab 167 years back as compensation for helping them in the Sikh wars.