A Chandigarh-based advocate who had sought the intervention of the High Commission of India in London to stop the auction of 10 heritage items— designed and made by Le-Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret— scheduled to be held at London on October 14, received a response by the High Commission there.
The office of the High Commission of India, London, sought the copies of the MHA order, issued in February 2011, banning the export and auction of heritage items designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in foreign lands. It also sought the copy of similar orders issued by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in the recent past.
Advocate Ajay Jagga had written to the Ministry of External Affairs and the High Commission of India, London, on Friday, urging them to halt the auction of 10 heritage items, scheduled to be held at auction house BONHAM. The reserved price for the heritage furniture items has been kept at Rs 1.50 crore.
In his representation, advocate Jagga had mentioned about the order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), issued on February 22, 2011, barring all kind of exports of furniture items designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret and the ASI’s order banning the export of such items from sea and air ports.
The email response of the High Commission of India, London, reads, “In order to examine the issue further, could you please share the copies of the 2011 MHA order and the recent instructions of the ASI, as quoted in your mail. It appears that these instructions are for prospective exports and they do not apply to past exports. This point may also be kindly clarified. This office has taken up various cases of restitution of stolen and smuggled antiquities which are items of India’s cultural heritage. In such cases, we need to provide clear documentary evidence to establish that they were indeed stolen or wrongfully sold/exported in violation of any of the prior laws or regulations. Therefore, it may kindly be informed whether such information is available for the 10 items of furniture that would be going on auction.”
Advocate Ajay Jagga said, “I received the communication Saturday. I will send the scanned copies of both the orders to the office of High Commission of India, London. I informed the UT Administrator VP Singh Badnore about this development.” The 10 items to be auctioned include an armchair, a writing table, a public bench, easy armchairs, folding screen etc, which were manufactured to be used at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Secretariat and Panjab University (PU).