A court here today gave two weeks’ time to a petitioner to inform it under which law Pakistan could seek return of the famed Koh-i-Noor diamond from Britain that India has been trying to get from the UK for years.
Petitioner Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffrey told the Lahore High Court that Koh-i-Noor diamond was “Pakistan asset” as it is in “illegal possession” of Britain.
“The British government had refused to hand over the diamond to India. Now Pakistan should lay claim on it as it is first entitled to have it. It is the Pakistani government’s duty to bring it back,” he said.
During the hearing of the case, Lahore High Court Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan asked the petitioner to give reference of the law under which the Pakistani government could seek the return of the diamond from the British government.
The court is hearing the maintainability of the case.
It directed the federal and Punjab law officers to appear on next hearing on February 25 and give arguments about its maintainability.
Last December, the LHC Registrar office had objected to the maintainability of the petition, saying the court had no jurisdiction to hear this case against the British Queen.
However, on February 8, the LHC overruled the objection and admitted the petition for hearing.
The British Queen, the British High Commission in Pakistan and the Pakistani government have been made respondents in the case.
Jaffery said the British had snatched the diamond from Daleep Singh, grandson of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and took to the UK.
“The diamond became part of the crown of incumbent Queen Elizabeth-II at the time of her crowing in 1953. Queen Elizabeth has no right on the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which weighs 105 carats and worth billions of rupees,” he said, adding Koh-I-Noor diamond was cultural heritage of Punjab province and its citizens owned it.
Reportedly, in 1849, after the conquest of the Punjab by the British forces, the properties of the Sikh Empire were confiscated.
The Koh-i-Noor was transferred to the treasury of the British East India Company in Lahore. The properties of the Sikh Empire were taken as war compensations. Even one line of the Treaty of Lahore was dedicated to the fate of the Koh-i-Noor.
The diamond was shipped to Britain on a ship where cholera broke out and supposedly the keeper of the diamond lost it for some days and it was returned to him by his servant.
The diamond was handed to Queen Victoria in 1850.