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SC summons museum heads

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the director of the Indian Museum and the curator-cum-secretary of the Victoria Memorial Hall to appear before it on January 10 to state what steps they had taken to protect the valuable items in the two museums.

The division bench of Justice R.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra passed the order after the two officials failed to carry out a court order asking them to file affidavits stating the steps taken to protect the museums.

The division bench, in its order on Wednesday, also asked the two to file the affidavits within four weeks.

The Supreme Court directive follows a supplementary affidavit filed by Subhas Datta on March 24, 2008, alleging that exhibits worth crores had been stolen from Indian Museum. “Even after such a heinous incident, the museum authorities did not take any preventive measures,” Datta said.

Datta also pointed out that the high court had asked the Victoria Memorial curator to draw up an inventory of exhibits but “till date the authority did not take any step in this regard”.

On the basis of Datta’s allegations, the division bench had in April 2008 asked the solicitor general, the Victoria curator and the Indian Museum director to file the affidavits. But the order is yet to be carried out.

Fire visit

Leaders of various political parties on Wednesday visited the site of Tuesday’s devastating fire in Maheshtala, on the southern fringes of the city, where a four-year-old boy died and more than 80 shanties were destroyed.

A forensic team also visited the spot and collected samples. District magistrate N.S. Nigam said the government was making arrangements for temporary shelter. “We are making an effort to shelter the homeless people and have planned permanent shelters for them,” he said.