The famous Kohinoor diamond was “given” to Great Britain and was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken away”, the Indian government has declared.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a hearing at the Supreme Court in Delhi on Monday that the 105-karat, £140 million gem, which is part of Britain’s Crown Jewels, was handed over to the East India Company by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and as such India should not stake a claim to the piece.
Mr Kumar, who was representing the Culture Ministry, was responding to a petition filed by the All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front which wants the gem returned to India.
The Supreme Court had called for the Central Government to make its case detailing the government’s official position with a view to future such petitions.
Ownership of the Kohinoor has long been disputed with many in India calling for its return to the country, claiming it is a symbol of Britain’s plunder of the sub-continent.
The British government has routinely rejected such demands.
The colourless diamond is believed to have been unearthed in the 13th Century in Andra Pradesh.
In its original, uncut form it had weight nearly 160 karats. The stone changed hands several times between various feuding factions in South Asia over hundreds of years before ending up in the possession of Queen Victoria after the British conquest of the Punjab in 1849.