Court stays auction of Gandhi’s belongings in US

March 3rd, 2009 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) In an effort to stop Mahatama Gandhi’s personal belongings from going under the hammer at a New York auction, the Delhi High Court put an interim stay on it Tuesday.
The order came after Ahmedabad-based Navjivan Trust approached the high court seeking a stay on the auction of five prized articles of Gandhi, including his iconic round glasses and sandals, by the US-based Antiquorum Auctioneers Thursday.

Justice Anil Kumar passed the ex parte order after Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, appearing on behalf of the trust, submitted that these articles could not be sold as they belonged to India and were illegally taken away from here.

Parasaran also submitted that a similar stay was also given by the Madras High Court in 1996 to stop the auction of Gandhi’s handwritten material by a British firm.

The 1996 order had successfully prevented the auction in Britain, said Parasaran, who has been given special permission by the government to appear for the trust established in 1929.

Under private international law, Parasaran explained, the issue of jurisdiction did not come in the way of the order. “Any article belonging to Gandhi is of great heritage value and is considered legitimately owned by India,” he said.

Justice Kumar after hearing the ASG also issued notice to the auction house, to which it has to respond by May 6.

There has been an uproar by Gandhians and others in India against the auction of what are considered by many to be part of the national heritage.

James Otis, the California collector who plans to sell these possessions once owned by Mahatma Gandhi, says Indian officials have not approached him, but if they did, he would be willing to try to resolve the issue.

“I don’t want anger or conflict or any kind of fury,” Otis, a peace activist, was quoted as saying by the Voice of America’s (VOA) Hindi Service adding, it never occurred to him the sale would create such an uproar.

-Indo-Asian News Service


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