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Legal notice to Christie’s?

The Govt is contemplating serving a legal notice to stop auctioning of the document, reports HS Bartwal.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2007 02:46 IST
Hemendra Singh Bartwal
Hemendra Singh Bartwal
Hindustan Times

With chances of British auction house Christie's agreeing to hand over Mahatma Gandhi's letter to the Indian High Commission without a bid appearing slim, the government is contemplating serving a legal notice on the company to stop it from putting up the rare document for auction on July 3.



According to sources at the Culture Ministry, the High Commission may serve a legal notice on Christie's, informing them that the letter cannot be sold as the copyright of all of Gandhi's writings lies with the Ahmedabad-based Navjiwan Trust. He had willed all his letters, writings and books to the trust.



The argument put forth is that since the ownership of the document lies with the Trust, it cannot belong to a private collector. The auction house, therefore, has no right to sell it under these circumstances.



The letter was penned by Gandhi in January 1948, 19 days before his assassination, for the newspaper,

Harijan

, that he published. The Prime Minister's Office asked the Culture Ministry to acquire it after some Gandhians wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to direct the government to obtain it.

First Published: Jun 29, 2007 20:58 IST