Hand over 57-kg gold, meant to weigh ex-PM Shastri, to CGST dept: Udaipur court
- The gold, whose market value stands at ₹27.29 crore, is lying in the treasury of the Udaipur collector.
A court in Rajasthan's Udaipur has ordered the custody of 56.83 kilograms of gold, which was handed over by a local of Chittorgarh to the district collector in 1965 for weighing the then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, be given to the central GST department of the Union government.
Former prime minister Shastri could not be weighed with the gold due to his death in Tashkent. The gold, whose market value stands at ₹27.29 crore, is lying in the treasury of the Udaipur collector.
Speaking about the background of the case, Praveen Khandelwal, the standing counsel for the Government of India who is representing the CGST department, said one Gunwantlal Anjana of Chhoti Sadri in Chittorgarh claimed that he had given the gold to Ganpatlal Anjana to keep it safe. Ganpatlal claimed that the gold was his and he had handed it over it to the Chittor district collector in 1965 for weighing the then PM.
Gunwantlal had filed an FIR alleging breach of trust by Ganpatlal. Acting on the FIR, Chittor police obtained the gold from the collector’s treasury in 1966.
The additional sessions court of Udaipur, in its order on January 11, 1975, convicted Ganpatlal of breach of trust and ordered that the gold must be handed over to the Gold Control Officer appointed under the India Defence Rule.
As per the rule, enforced from 1 April 1965, any gold present with anyone, if not transformed into ornament within 6 months of possession, will be declared contraband and confiscated by the government. That’s why gold custody was not given to Gunwantlal, said Khandelwal.
Later, Ganpatlal challenged his conviction in the Udaipur district court and Gunwantlal appealed against giving away the gold to the Gold Control Officer. In August 1978, an additional district judge of Udaipur acquitted Ganpatlal over the benefit of the doubt and turned down Gunwantlal's plea, upholding the additional sessions court’s 1975 decision.
The state government then moved the Rajasthan High Court and appealed against Ganpatlal's acquittal. Gunwantlal also appealed in the HC against the order that gave the gold's custody to the Gold Control Officer. The High Court quashed the appeals of the state government and Gunwantlal on September 14, 2007, said Khandelwal.
In 2012, Ganpatlal's son Govardhan Anjana filed a writ petition in the High Court, claiming custody of the gold.
Meanwhile, assistant Commissioner, CGST Chittor, also filed an application in the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court in Udaipur, saying the gold should be handed over to them as per the 1975 order of the additional sessions court.
Govardhan also filed a writ before the CJM court, seeking custody of the gold. But the CJM court ruled in favour of the CGST department.
Goverdhan then moved the additional district sessions court, Udaipur. On February 17, the district sessions court ordered that the custody of the gold should be handed over to the CGST department.
Khandelwal said, “Although the additional district sessions court has given its verdict in favour of the CGST, the matter is still pending before the Rajasthan High Court.”