The Calcutta recently rapped the Central Bureau of Investigation for not complying with Court orders to relocate Buddhist religious manuscripts and artefacts engraved with gold, which had been lying neglected at the Kalimpong court ‘Malkhana’ for almost six years
“It is nothing but callousness, carelessness and negligence on the part of the CBI which has caused national treasures to be locked in a trunk in the malkhana of the Court for almost six years… Fortunately, it has now found its rightful place in the Indian National Musuem. We have been told that because of the moisture in the malkhana of the Court the artefacts are likely to have suffered some damage and the museum is now undertaking the process of restoring and preserving the artefacts,” the Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty observed.
While investigating the theft of the Nobel Medallion of Rabindranath Tagore as well as some other items from Santiniketan, Bolpur, the CBI had found Buddhist religious manuscripts and artefacts engraved with gold. These articles were seized and a case under Sections 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) and 414 (assisting in concealment of stolen property) of the Indian Penal Code was initiated before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Kalimpong.
During this trial, the seized articles were kept in the malkhana of the Court. Subsequently, on 28 November, 2011, the ACJM directed the CBI to take custody of the trunk containing the artefacts, and transport them to the Indian National Museum. The ACJM had also directed the Director of the Indian National Museum to receive the treasures for preservation as national property.
Another order was issued on 16 November, 2012, directing the Court Inspector and the Director of the Indian National Museum to ensure compliance with the directions. No steps were, however, taken by authorities to adhere to the orders.
Consequently, the High Court had, in April this year, taken suo motu cognizance of a TOI report titled, “1,500 year old antique rots in Court store room”, and had found that while the trunk had been received by the Indian National Museum, the key for the same had not been handed over by the CBI. The Court had then directed the CBI to immediately open the trunk, so that its contents could be verified and handed over to the Indian National Museum.
Taking note of the compliance by the CBI, the Court now observed, “Although the Trial Court had passed the order the order on 28th November, 2011 the CBI took no steps at all to implement the order so as to ensure that the treasure is not lost for the generations to come.”