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Indian artefact return proposals rejected by UK government

India’s recent hopes [1] of securing the return of some of their cultural heritage appear to have been rejected by the British Government. The fact is though, that they fall back on an outdated law as a defence of the status quo – neglecting the fact that if the political will existed, the law could easily be changed to allow restitution.

From:
Times of India [2]

Britain rejects ASI demand for artifacts
ASHIS RAY, TNN, Jun 4, 2010, 02.12am IST

LONDON: Britain has rejected Archeological Survey of India’s demand for the return of artifacts that were carted away from India, mostly illegally, during British colonial rule. The British foreign office said domestic laws prevented museums from removing items from their collection.

‘‘The British Museum Act 1963 prevents our national museums from removing items from their collections, with the exception of human remains and objects lost during the Nazi era, and government has no plans to change the law,’’ a spokesperson of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said.

The spokesperson said people felt strongly about the restitution debate and that museum trustees take decisions relating to the items vested in their care and politicians don’t interfere. ‘‘It’s a long-established principle in the UK, supported by successive governments.”