ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Preserving Cultural Heritage

Addressing Gaps in the Antiquities Act

The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972 has failed to curb the illicit trafficking of Indian antiquities. Will the draft Antiquities and Art Treasures Regulation, Export and Import Control Bill, 2017, with its blinkered focus on the buying and selling of antiques, end up facilitating the free trade of our valuable material heritage instead of protecting it?

The central government has proposed the amendment and revision of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972. Union Minister for Culture Mahesh Sharma strongly feels that these amendments and revisions will prevent the rampant and unlawful export of Indian antiquities. Reading between the lines, then, the implication is that the existing legislation has failed on several fronts.

At the forefront of the debate is the rampant illicit trafficking of Indian antiquities. It is difficult to gauge the extent of the problem because of the dearth of concrete data on the illicit art trade. Nobody has a complete grip on the magnitude and extent of the illegal trade in stolen art. The issue was in the spotlight after the arrest of New York-based Subhash Kapoor in 2012 in Tamil Nadu. Kapoor was an established antiquities dealer in New York whose clients included leading and established museums and distinguished collectors in the United States and around the world. His arrest and subsequent investigations exposed a murky and intricate network of criminals that transcends borders, actively aided by local agencies, including the police.

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Updated On : 18th Apr, 2018
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