A Self Sufficient Window to Repatriate What is Ours –Artefacts of the Greatest India
By Vibhuti Jangir, Christ (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru.*
In 2022, world’s largest conference dedicated to culture, was convened, witnessing over 2,600 participants and the Indian delegation was headed by Minister of State for Culture, Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal. This conference, called the Montiacult 2022, for the first time ‘culture’ was recognized as worthy of being given a specific objective in its own right under the next United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. All the 150 countries unanimously adopted the Declaration followed United Nations General Assembly Resolution that is targeted at combatting the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property. In the past 40 years this is the largest conference convened dedicated solely to culture. Over the recent years both, trafficking of cultural goods as well as awareness amongst legal circles of cultural heritage jurisprudence has attracted a lot of attention. This paper tries to quantify the depths of Indian laws responsible to ensure or uphold the security of the tangible cultural assets especially with respect to illicit trafficking. In India, before the advent of the British there was no particular law regarding cultural heritage. However, apart from ratification of certain international conventions, on a domestic level The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972 deals with the issues of smuggling of antiquities and such fraudulent dealings of art treasures. Further, there is The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 that has certain provisions regarding Central Government’s powers to regulate trafficking of cultural assets. However, whether these Acts and the proposed amendments thereof have been enough to combat the issue of repatriation and are fulfilling their primary purpose of having stringent provisions to stop such trafficking needs to be assessed.
Keywords: Culture, Cultural Property, Heritage, Trafficking, Repatriation.
* The author is pursuing LL.M. from Christ (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru.