The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nobel stick for govt

New Delhi, April 4: The Supreme Court today gave the Centre a four-week ultimatum to file a comprehensive proposal for protecting art and historically important objects in the wake of Tagore's Nobel theft last March.

A division bench of Justices . Santosh Hegde and S.B. Sinha took a serious view of the Centre not filing a response on protection of historical objects. It asked the Union government to reply within four weeks and gave eight weeks to the petitioner, Subhas Dutta, the general secretary of the Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samiti, to file his counter reply.

Additional solicitor-general Amarendra Saran, appearing for the Centre, submitted that a 'scheme' to protect art objects in the country was on the anvil.

'Nowhere in the world this type of a theft happens and the image of this country is lowered in the eyes of the rest of the world,' argued Dutta, the first non-lawyer to be appointed amicus curiae by Calcutta High Court's green bench. He also drew the attention of the court to the recent theft of the 15th century bust of Buddha from the Indian museum in Calcutta.

Dutta, who had filed a PIL immediately after the Nobel theft, had sought a directive to the government for the formation of a special force educated in art and culture and inculcated with pride about our heritage.

The social activist contended that, for example, in London museum where Karl Marx did his research for more than nine years before writing Das Kapital, specially trained security personnel have been deployed. The situation is similar in the US, Dutta claimed.

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