The Lahore High Court has accepted a petition seeking direction to the government to bring back the Koh-i-Noor diamond from Queen Elizabeth II. The Koh-i-Noor is one of the Crown Jewels and is now on display in the Tower of London.
The petition, filed by Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffry, has named Queen Elizabeth II and Philip Barton, Britain’s High Commissioner to Pakistan respondents in the case.
Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan overruled the objection by the Court’s Registrar office which claimed that it was non-maintainable and that the court had no jurisdiction to hear a case against the British Queen.
The petitioner filed a fresh application in the High Court pleading that:
- In Britain, the Queen is respondent in every case. So she could also be made respondent in a Pakistani case.
- Britain “forcibly and under duress” stole the diamond from Daleep Singh, grandson of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, and took it to Britain.
- According to him, the diamond was a cultural heritage of the Punjab province “that became Pakistan in 1947.” He argued that it became part of the Crown only at the time of her crowning in 1953.
The Koh-i-Noor was obtained in medieval times from the Kollur mine in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district. It was, along with other properties, appropriated by the British in 1850 from the Sikh Empire as war compensation.
India has also long demanded that the diamond be returned to it. The British PM David Cameron on many occasions denied a possibility of returning it stating that “…if you say yes to one, then you would suddenly find the British Museum empty.”
–By Mohit Talwar