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SC refuses to interfere in ASI's Unnao gold hunt

Last updated on: October 21, 2013 15:14 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere in the ongoing Archaeological Survey of India excavation for gold supposed to be buried under the ruins of a 19th century fort in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district, saying it cannot pass an order on the basis of assumption.

A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, however, kept pending the Public Interest Litigation seeking court monitoring of the excavation process in Daundia Khera village after the petitioner pleaded that it should not be dismissed.

The bench said that the court cannot interfere in all sensational matters and there should be a basis to pass an order which cannot be done merely on the ground of assumption.

The court was hearing the PIL filed by advocate M L Sharma seeking directions for ensuring proper arrangements for safety and protection were made at the site so that any hidden treasure should not get into wrong hands.

The bench said that no order was required at this stage. The petitioner had submitted that court monitoring was required in the case as "the valuable resources might vanish".

The court had on October 18 said that the state government was there to take care of the process and had agreed to hear the PIL only after the defects were removed in the petition.

The much-hyped excavation is being carried out by the ASI after a seer, Shobhan Sarkar, dreamt that 1,000 tonnes of gold were buried in the fort of Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh, a 1857 revolt martyr, in Daundia Khera village.

Sarkar has claimed that treasures were also hidden at many other places in UP. His claim was not taken seriously by the local administration and the state government. However, a Union Minister later visited the area and met Sarkar. The minister then directed ASI to work on it, which began on October 18.

His claim was not taken seriously by the local administration and the state government. However, a Union Minister later visited the area and met Sarkar. The minister then directed ASI to work on it, which began on October 18.

The petitioner claimed that authorities had in 1974 excavated valuable goods from Jaipur in Rajasthan but till date no one knows what happened to them. The advocate sought the apex court's direction to appoint its monitoring team for the entire excavation process in Unnao district, about 130 kms from Lucknow, as the total value of 1,000 tonnes of gold, if found, is in billions of dollars.

Sharma also sought a direction to the Centre to depute military officials to control or supervise the entire excavation process. He said that he apprehends corruption by the political leaders who may have "control" over recovery of any treasure. 

Image: Onlookers stand at the site of digging at Daundia Khera village in Unnao district

Photograph: Reuters

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