By Archana Sharma
Jaipur, Feb 19 (IANS) Gold weighing 56.86 kg, given to the District Collector in Rajasthan’s Chittogarh for weighing then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in wake of the 1965 India-Pakistan war, will be passed on to the government, a court has ordered.
The gold, valued at Rs 4.76 lakh at that time, is now valued at Rs 27.29 crore.
The District and Sessions Court in Chittorgarh on Wednesday directed the officials concerned to hand over the gold to the Assistant Commissioner of Central Goods and Service Tax.
The controversy over ownership of the gold dates back to late 1965 when the precious metal was given to Chittorgarh District Collector for weighing Shastri. The case has been heard five times earlier in different courts since then, and each time, the decision went in the government’s favour.
At present, this gold is lying in a cupboard in the Udaipur District Collector’s office.
On December 9, 1965, a person named Gunwant filed a case against Ganpat and two others, alleging that the accused did not return 56.86 kg gold to him.
On December 16, 1965, Ganpat handed over the gold to Chittorgarh Collector for weighing Prime Minister Shastri, who had a scheduled visit in Udaipur. However, Shastri passed in Tashkent in January 1966 following talks with Pakistan organised by the then Soviet Union. Thereafter, police seized the gold but its custody was given to the Chittorgarh Collector.
In 1969, a challan was presented in the Assistant District Session Court in Udaipur and gold was then brought to Udaipur.
On January 11, 1975, the court sentenced Ganpat and Hiralal to two years imprisonment and rights over the gold were given to the Gold Controller.
Ganpat and Hiralal challenged the judgement in the sessions court and were freed, but they did not regain the right to possession of the gold.
A petition was again filed by Gunwant against the verdict in the High Court, which, on September 14, 2007, upheld the order of acquittal, but rejected the appeal for transferring them rights over the gold.
In 2012, Ganpat’s heir Govardhan filed a writ in court, saying that the gold belonged to his father and police had recovered it from him. However, this writ is still pending.
On July 17, 2020, the Assistant Commissioner, CGST, Chittorgarh submitted an application in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court for delivery of the gold, and on August 5, 2020, the court said that the High Court has issued directions to the for the delivery of gold to the CGST official.
Govardhan then appealed to the session court, which also decided in favour of the gold be transferred to the official.
By Archana Sharma