India’s Supreme Court has told officials pushing for fresh attempts to bring the priceless Koh-i-Noor diamond, now part of the British crown jewels, that it cannot interfere in the diplomatic process nor can it direct another country to not auction the gem.
The 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, which came into British hands in the mid-19th Century, has been on display at the Tower of London for years. But ownership of the famous rock is an emotional issue for many Indians, who believe the British stole it.
For that reason, the diamond — one of the world’s largest — has been at the centre of a diplomatic row between New Delhi and London, with India arguing for decades that it should get it back.
Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration told the Supreme Court that the diamond was neither “forcibly taken nor stolen” by the British, but given as a “gift” to the East India Company by the rulers of Punjab.
The government, however, has revealed that it is still trying to bring the diamond back, likely based on agreements with the UK, as there is no concrete evidence to show Koh-i-Noor was validly gifted to Queen Victoria, India Today reported.
The Koh-i-Noor, meaning “Mountain of Light” in Persian, has been part of the British crown jewels for more than 150 years and it is now part of a crown worn by the late mother of Queen Elizabeth.
For many Indians, the British returning the diamond would be a compensation for the excesses they committed during their colonial rule.