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What law allows Pakistan to seek return of Kohinoor: Lahore HC asks

world Updated: Feb 11, 2016 14:46 IST
Kohinoor diamond

The Kohinoor diamond, which is the centrepiece of the British crown.(AFP Photo)

A Pakistani court on Thursday granted two weeks’ time to a petitioner to inform it under which law Pakistan could seek return of the famed Kohinoor diamond from Britain that India has also been trying to recover from the United Kingdom for years.

Petitioner Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffrey told the Lahore high court that Kohinoor diamond was a “Pakistan asset” as it is in “illegal possession” of Britain.

“The British government had refused to hand over the diamond to India. Now Pakistan should lay claim on it as it is first entitled to have it. It is the Pakistani government’s duty to bring it back,” he said.

During the hearing of the case, Lahore high court Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan asked the petitioner to give reference of the law under which the Pakistani government could seek the return of the diamond from the British government.

The court is hearing the maintainability of the case.

It directed the federal and Punjab law officers to appear on next hearing on February 25 and give arguments about its maintainability.

Last December, the LHC Registrar office had objected to the maintainability of the petition, saying the court had no jurisdiction to hear this case against the British Queen.

However, on February 8, the LHC overruled the objection and admitted the petition for hearing.

The British Queen, the British High Commission in Pakistan and the Pakistani government have been made respondents in the case.

Jaffery said the British had stolen the diamond from Daleep Singh, grandson of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and took to the UK.

“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 worth billions of rupees,” he said, adding that the Kohinoor diamond was part of the cultural heritage of Punjab province, and therefore its citizens owned it.

In 1849, after the conquest of the Punjab by the British forces, properties and assets belonging to the Sikh Empire were reportedly confiscated by the East India Company.

The Kohinoor was transferred to the treasury of the British East India Company in Lahore. The properties of the Sikh Empire were taken as ad hoc war reparations. There was even one line of the Treaty of Lahore specifically dedicated to the fate of the Kohinoor.

The diamond was handed to Queen Victoria in 1850.