Court asks Centre to safeguard of historic Gandhi relics

Court asks Centre to safeguard of historic Gandhi relics

The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the Centre to apprise it with the steps it has taken for taking over the management of the National Gandhi Museum and other museums to safeguard the historic items related to Mahatma Gandhi.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw asked counsel for the ministry of culture to take instruction from the government and inform the court about the steps taken by it on the issue by Jan 14 next year.

The plea filed by advocates G.L. Verma and J.K. Nayyar also asked the court that along with National Gandhi Museum, the Centre should take over the management of other museums at Madurai, Patna, Barrackpore and Mumbai, due to alleged grave financial irregularities besides disappearance of rare Gandhian legacy.

The advocates argued that to safeguard rare letters, films, photographs, books, cine-files, voice records, personal belongings and other historic items related to Gandhi, the Centre should take over the museum from Smarak Sangrahalaya Samiti, which now manages the National Gandhi Museum in the capital.

The plea alleged that "there have been grave financial irregularities apart from disappearance of rare Gandhian legacy, including rare letters, films, photographs, historic items such as blood-stained clothes and lathi used by Mahatma Gandhi during Dandi March as all of them have been either replaced or damaged".

It said that no action has been taken on the recommendations of Justice P.D. Kudal Commission, set up in 1981 to inquire into the fiscal irregularities and mismanagement of Gandhi National Museum, being run under the aegis of Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya Samiti.

In its 1986 report, the Kundal Commission indicted the governing body and trustees of the Samiti for showing complete ignorance about the various malpractices going on in the National Gandhi Museum and the loss and damage caused to the sacred relics of Father of the Nation.

"The past record of activities of Samiti would firmly establish that it did nothing to take Gandhism ahead and to add legacies of Gandhi which are scattered all over the world. While relics of historic importance were being auctioned in foreign countries, it did nothing to collect relics from different countries of the world to enrich the museum nor did they hold any activity to spread the lofty ideals which Gandhi preached. On the contrary, it failed to preserve whatever was available," the plea said.

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