The Ministry of Culture has said that Karnataka
tops the list in India in terms of stolen antiquities.
Antiquity is an article or object (example:
coin, sculpture, painting or epigraph, or anything taken from a building or
cave) that is at least 100 years old. These illustrates the science, art,
crafts or customs or religion or literature of a bygone age, or anything of
historical interest. If it is a manuscript or record of any scientific,
historical, literary or aesthetic value, it should be at least 75 years’ old.
The antiquities in India are governed by The
Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972. The main purpose of the act is to
regulate the export trade in antiquities and art treasures and prevent
smuggling and fraudulent dealings of antiquities and art treasures. An art
treasure is a human work of art, other than an antiquity. It is to be declared
a treasure by the Centre for its artistic value after the artist’s death.
The Act is regulated by Archaeological Survey of
India (ASI). ASI, under the ministry of Culture, is the nodal agency
responsible for archaeological excavations, conservation of monuments, and
protection of heritage sites, antiquities and art treasures.
Under the act, it is mandatory to register
possession of an antiquity with the ASI. Further, an antiquity can be sold within
the country only by a licenced person. Section 3 of the Act prohibits export of
an antiquity by anyone other than the Centre or its agencies.
In 2017, the government introduced Draft
Antiquities and Art Treasures Regulation, Export and Import Bill, 2017. The
draft bill eases out the process of trading antiques in India. It allows a
dealer to trade post notifying the government of the transaction through an
online portal maintained by the ASI.