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This article is written by R. MalarMitha in the 10th Semester of the School of Law, Sathyabama Institution of Science and Technology, Chennai, an intern under Legal Vidhiya.


In this article, we will discuss about The Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1971 This legislation regulating the export of antiquities and art treasures, prohibiting the smuggling of antiquities and fraudulent dealings in it, mandating the acquisition of antiquities and art treasures for public preservation, and addressing various other matters incidental or ancillary to the aforementioned laws. With 47 artifacts originating in Eastern India, 27 from Southern India, 22 from Central India, 6 from Northern India, and 3 from Western India, the artefacts’ origins are distributed widely across the country. These antiques date from the second or third century CE to the eighteenth or nineteenth century CE and are composed of terracotta, stone, metal, and wood. For Example- First-century BC terracotta Yakshi plaque; ninth-century red sandstone Dancing Ganesha; and tenth-century Kubera.

Keywords: Objectives, Constitutional provisions, Important provisions, Measures taken, Issues, Prevention, Challenges, Bill-2017, Way forward, Case law.


A work of material that is at least 100 years old qualifies as a “antiquity” under the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972. These provide illustrations of historical subjects such as science, art, crafts, customs, religion, and literature. Ancient artefacts and artwork, like as jewellery, paintings, and sculptures, have long played a significant role in the culture of India’s people. Regretfully, India’s riches have been stolen and destroyed for a very long time even before the country emerged from British colonial rule. This is an ongoing issue that requires immediate attention. The Antiquities (Export Control) Act of 1947 was repealed by the Antiquities and Art Treasuries Act (AAT), which was passed by Parliament in 1972. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), a division of the Ministry of Culture, is in charge of gathering and exhibiting works of art with significant cultural and historical value.[1]

Antiquities may be sold, but only by those with the proper licence. But anyone other than the Centre or its agents is not allowed to export antiquities, according to Section 3 of the Act. It is the buyer’s responsibility to confirm whether the item he is purchasing is an antique and, if it is, that the seller is authorised to sell it and has a certificate of registration. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, registration must be done before a designated official.


The Act defines antiquity as follows:

  1. A coin, sculpture, painting, epigraph, or other artistic or handcrafted creation.
  2. Any component, item, or thing that isn’t attached to a cave or building.
  3. Any item, thing, or article that serves as an example of science, literature, art, crafts, religion, politics, customs, or morality in the past.
  4. Any historical piece, article, or thing of importance.
  5. Any item, object, or thing that the Central Government designates as an antique for the purposes of this Act by publishing a notification in the Official Gazette.
  6. It should be at least 75 years old if it is a manuscript or document with any scientific, historical, literary, or artistic value.

However, it is illegal to possess antiquity that has not been registered. According to Section 14(3) of the Act, “every person who owns, controls or is in possession of any antiquity” must register it with a registering officer and receive a certificate of registration within 15 days of it entering their possession.

Art Treasure

A human work of art that is not an antique that has been designated as a treasure by the Centre due to its artistic merits after the artist’s passing is known as an art treasure. A human work of art that is not ancient that has been designated as a treasure by the Centre due to its artistic merits after the artist’s passing is known as an art treasure.[2] For example: Chola Bronzes.

Art treasures are defined as “any human work of art that is not an antiquity, and is declared by the Central Government in the Official Gazette to be an art treasure” in Section 2(1) clause (b) of the AAT Act. The Act restricts the export of antiquities and art treasures (as defined in Section 2) to the Central Government and its authorised agencies, subject to the terms and conditions of the permit. In addition, it permits the trading of antiquities by entities other than the Central Government upon the filing of a licence application. All parties involved in the antiquity trade, excluding the Central Government, are required to obtain a licence in accordance with Section 5. A licence officer is in charge of granting a licence, for the prescribed duration and under the prescribed conditions, after taking into account various factors, such as the applicant’s prior experience trading antiquities, the proposed location for the business, the number of people already employed by the applicant, and any other factors that may be prescribed. In addition, licence holders must keep documents, including photos and registrations, with stipulated details. These records must be accessible for inspection by a licencing officer or any other gazetted officer designated by the former. If someone obtains a licence through “misrepresentation of fact,” “failed to comply with the conditions subject to which the licence has been granted,” or “contravenes any of the provisions of the act,” their licence may be revoked. A person whose licence has been revoked may sell all of their antiquities to other licence holders under Section 12.

The Central Government is required by Section 14 to publish notice in the Official Gazette specifying which antiquities must be protected. The notified antiquity must be registered in order for the person in control, owner, or possession of it to receive a certificate. In public areas, the government can even “compulsorily acquire” antiques and art treasures if it thinks it would be best to conserve them. In some cases, it can even forbid other people from trading in them.

In 1980, the Central Government published a notification requiring artefacts, including:

  1. Paintings that are more than a century old, in any medium.
  2. Ivory, bone, stone, terracotta, and metal sculptures.
  3. Manuscripts with paintings, illustrations, or illuminations (even if they are over a century old, they do not need to be registered if they solely include text).


Definition of Art Treasures and Antiquities: The Act provides a definition for art treasures and antiquities.[3]  

Export Control: The Act forbids the export of art treasures and antiquities unless a legitimate government licence is obtained.

Registration Procedure: As stated in AATA section 14(3), “Everyone who owns, controls, or is in possession of any antiquity” must register it with the registering officer in order to “obtain a certificate in token of such registration.”

Sale of Antiquities: Only those with a licence are permitted to sell antiquities.

Penalties: The selling of antiques that are exclusively designated for sale by the Central government and the failing to declare all antiques owned at the time a licence expires are violations. In addition to confiscation, all of these carry the same punishment of a fine, a six-month jail sentence, or both.


  1. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is located under the Ministry of Culture, is in charge of conducting archaeological research and overseeing the restoration and preservation of about 3,650 monuments classified as “national heritage” at the national level.
  2. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958 (AMASR Act) is the legislation that governs these.
  3. State-protected monuments are managed by the Directorate of State Archaeology and Museums.
  4. A lot of cities also make an attempt to preserve their own urban heritage by designating a City List of historically significant local objects that are under local government administration.
  5. Exports of antiques are governed by the Antiquities Export Control Act of 1947 and its regulations.
  6. A revision to the AMASR Act established the National Monument Authority, whose role it is to grade and categorise designated monuments and sites.
  7. In order to gain effective control over the moveable cultural property made up of antiquities and art treasures, the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972 was passed.
  8. Several state legislations pertaining to heritage have also been passed.
  9. India’s ratification of the World Heritage Convention for the preservation of both national and global heritage by UNESCO further demonstrated the country’s commitment to heritage.[4]


Section 2(a): Antiquities

Section 5: Antiquities to be sold only under the licence.

Section 6: Appointment of licence

Section 7: Application for licence

Section 8: Grant of licence

Section 9: Renewal of licence

Section 14: Registration of Antiquities

Section 21: Appeal

Section 25: Penalty

Section 28: Offence by companies


Directive Principles of State Policy Article 49: Requires the State to preserve any monument, location, or historic or artistic artefact that has been deemed to be of national significance by the Parliament or under a law passed by that body. Every monument, location, or item of historical or artistic value that has been designated by Parliament as being of national significance must be protected by the State from spoliation, defacement, destruction, removal, disposal, or export, as applicable.

Fundamental Duty Article 51A: of the Indian Constitution, it is the responsibility of every Indian citizen to cherish and protect our rich cultural legacy. Every Indian citizen has a responsibility to cherish and maintain the rich legacy of our diverse culture, as well as to safeguard and enhance the natural environment, which includes lakes, rivers, forests, and animals, and to show compassion for all living things.

1. 1947: In order to prohibit the export of antiquities without a licence, the Antiquities (Export Control) Act was passed.[5]

2. 1958: To protect historic sites and monuments from damage and abuse, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act was passed.

3. 1972: On April 1, 1976, the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 (AATA), came into effect. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the authority that granted this licence.

The following clauses about Indian ancestry are found in Schedule 7 of the Indian Constitution:

Union list- Item 67:

Monuments, archives, and archaeological sites and remnants that date back thousands of years and that the Parliament has deemed to be of national significance.

State list- Item 12:

Libraries, museums, and other comparable establishments under state control or funding; historic and archaeological sites and artefacts not specifically included in laws established by Parliament as being of national significance.

Concurrent list- Item 40:

Archaeological remains and sites other than those 1 that are deemed to be of national significance by Parliament by legislation.


1. The establishment of an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation under the Ministry of Culture was suggested in the Union Budget 2020–21: There are plans to build five archaeological sites in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, and Haryana with on-site museums.

2. National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities (NMMA): Established in 2007, the NMMA has documented over 14 lakh antiquities nationwide, preparing a National Register on Antiquities through the standardisation of documentation of antiquities from various sources.[6]

3. The four missions of the Ministry of Culture are as follows:

a) The National Monuments and Antiquities Mission.

b) Manuscripts National Mission

c) The National Library Mission

d) The Mission of Gandhi Heritage Sites

4. The National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY): Programme was introduced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs with an emphasis on the comprehensive development of heritage cities.

5. Drafting Antiquities Bill: In its 2017 draught Antiquities Bill, the Centre suggested doing away with the need for a licence in order to trade antiques domestically. The government intends to establish an expert advisory committee in accordance with the draught law, which will make the decisions that the ASI has been making up to this point.


1. UNESCO: The 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illegal Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Mandates that the parties to the agreement take action to stop the illegal import of stolen cultural property into their countries.The United Nations Security Council has adopted resolutions to safeguard cultural heritage sites in war areas, and the 1970 UNESCO Convention seeks to prohibit the unauthorised import, export, and transfer of cultural property.

The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illegal Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property was drafted by UNESCO in 1970. Additionally, in 2015 and 2016, the UN Security Council adopted resolutions urging the preservation of cultural heritage sites in crisis areas.

2. UNIDROIT Convention on Cultural Property Theft or Illegal Export (1995): It contains measures for the return of stolen goods and describes the types of objects that are covered. The Convention specifies the conditions that must be met in order to order the repatriation of cultural artefacts that have been unlawfully exported.  It underlined that one of the most effective ways to safeguard each nation’s cultural property is through international cooperation, as illicit trade in cultural property devalues the legacy of the countries of origin.[7]


1. Illegal Trade: Because of its rich cultural legacy, lax enforcement of antiquities preservation laws, and bureaucratic indifference, India has become a haven for looting and the smuggling of antiquities for sale on the international market. Concerns concerning antiques being smuggled and sold to support terrorist organisations have grown in recent years.

2. Absence of database: An integrated database of both legitimate and pilfered antiquities does not exist. Antiquities theft is always a serious concern when there is no central repository for knowledge.

3. Inadequate conservation: One big worry is the inadequate preservation and repair of antiques in museums. The majority of the priceless artwork and antiques require urgent conservation. The majority of the time, items that are accepted for conservation are already too damaged to be restored.

4. The Ashmolean Museum purchased the 16th-century bronze figure of Saint Tirumangai Azhwar from Sotheby’s in 1967. It is an Indian piece of art. It is said that the idol vanished from a temple in the vicinity of Kumbakonam fifty years ago. Authorities would be helped by the police-provided paperwork in determining the provenance of the piece and the sculpture’s potential return home.

5. According to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illegal Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, any such cultural property imported after the Convention’s entry into force must be recovered and returned upon the request of the State Party of origin. A legitimate owner of the property or an innocent buyer must get fair recompense from the seeking State. Indirectly, and subject to national laws, Article 13 of the Convention also includes obligations about collaboration and restitution.

6. 322 of the 486 items on the ASI list have been reported missing since 1976. 17 states and two Union Territories are included in the ASI’s list of missing antiquities, which is divided into the following: Uttarakhand (33), Tamil Nadu (30), Bihar (22), Andhra Pradesh (18), Karnataka (15), Maharashtra (12), Chhattisgarh (8), Odisha (5), and Telangana (5). “More than 50,000 art objects have been smuggled out of India till 1989,” according to UNESCO estimates.[8]

Out of the 16.70 lakh artefacts it has documented, the National Mission on Monuments and artefacts has registered 3.52 lakh so far in order to provide a “effective check” on illicit activity.


1. The Antiquities (Export Control) Act of 1947 was superseded by the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972 and the “Rules” enacted therein in 1973. The Act provides:

  • Mandatory registration of certain antiquity categories
  • Controlling the export of priceless artwork and antiquities. Anybody other than the Centre or its agencies is not permitted to export antiquities under Section 3 of the Act.
  • Preventing fraudulent antique transactions and smuggling
  • Acquisition of antiques and artwork must be mandatory in order to avoid in public areas

2. In order to make it easier for Custom Authorities to approve the export of non-antiquities, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has set up Expert Advisory Committees to certify non-antiquities.

3. ASI officers are stationed at all significant international departure terminals for air and sea transportation to support customs authorities in their efforts to differentiate between antiques and non-antiques.

4. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has established an Antique Cell to look into theft and loss cases involving antiques.

5. The National Mission on Antiquities and Monuments (2007) Its goal was to create a standard database of antiquities from various sources in order to create a National Register on Antiquities. Over 14 lakh antiquities were registered as of 2016 (Culture Ministry).

6. Civil Society Project: India Pride Initiative. It is an international volunteer network that tracks down and returns India’s pilfered art treasures and antiquities.

7. Antique idol exports Despite being against the law, illicit exports continue through devious tactics, such as sending them with idols made of recently manufactured handicrafts.[9]

8. The government response to antiquities theft is appalling: since their seizure back in 2007, some items still haven’t been returned home. Additionally, stolen idols are sent back to India under the pretence of diplomatic “gifts.” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott gave the bronze statue of Lord Shiva, known as the Sripuranthan Nataraja, to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014; it had been smuggled out of Australia in 2006.

9. The CBI’s defence against the problem is quite inadequate.

10. Weak and insignificant laws, such as the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR Act) and the AAT Act. While the ex-trial is held for seven years, the offences under sections 380 and 457 of the IPC carry a six-month punishment. However, there is no explicit mention of disasters involving heritage sites in these rules and regulations.


1. Lack of Strategy: The CAG report states that ASI does not have a long- or medium-term strategy to carry out its mandate. The conservation efforts were carried out annually or on an as-needed basis.

2. Repatriation concerns: Getting stolen antiquities back from overseas can be a drawn-out and difficult procedure that involves court cases and diplomatic discussions.

3. Illegal trafficking and looting: Due to its rich cultural legacy, India is a prime destination for illicit antiquity trafficking and pillage. According to Global Financial Integrity, the illicit trade in artwork produces $6 billion a year. This includes paintings, sculptures, and other artefacts.

4. Inadequate law enforcement: It is difficult to properly monitor and stop the illegal antiquity trade due to a lack of resources and lax enforcement. Just 1,493 of the 4,408 artefacts that were taken from 3,676 ASI-protected monuments around the country between 2008 and 2012 were able to be stopped by law enforcement, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau.

5. Red Tapism: Protracted and intricate bureaucratic procedures can make it difficult to properly document, conserve, and preserve antiques.

6. Encroachment and urbanisation: Due to fast urbanisation and construction initiatives, historical and archaeological sites are occasionally encroached upon or destroyed.[10]

7. Underfunding and resource limitations: The preservation and administration of antiquities demand substantial financial resources as well as knowledgeable staff, both of which are not always accessible. Following 2017–18, ASI’s overall spending increased moderately, with a notable portion of the increase going towards heritage protection initiatives (40 percent of total expenditures). According to CAG, ASI continued to spend less than 1% on exploration and excavation projects. 

8. Climate and environmental factors: Weather and pollution are examples of natural phenomena that can jeopardise the preservation of antiquities.


The 2017 Export and Import Bill and Regulation for Antiquities and Art Treasures.

Among the Bill’s key provisions are:

1. It states that as soon as the new measure is signed into law, all licences granted under the 1972 Act will be revoked.

2. Except in cases where the government or one of its organisations exports antiques, the statute forbids this practise.

3. Nonetheless, it essentially removes all limitations on commerce in such goods within the nation. A dealer is required to use an internet portal run by the ASI to notify the government of the transaction.

4. The administration has also eliminated customs duties for artists returning with their own works and for anyone bringing back antiques of Indian origin following a legal purchase.

5. Due to its lenient registration and licencing requirements, they drafted The Antiquities Bill, 2017 has sparked fears from activists that it may encourage illegal trade and facilitate theft.


1. The Antiquity Act of 1972 has gaps that should be filled, and smuggling and poor management of antiques underscore the need for a new, comprehensive law to protect Indian antiques and art treasures.[11]

2. To continue to prevent the theft of antiques and artefacts, museum security regulations need to be evaluated and reinforced.

3. Only the upkeep and preservation of public antiquities should be under the purview of the Archaeological Society of India (ASI). It is imperative that the ASI be not inundated with duties that transcend its primary purview. Thus, it is imperative to establish agencies with the necessary authority to handle antiquities.

4. International cooperation is needed to halt the unauthorised import and export of antiques.

5. Encouraging public participation and knowledge is crucial to the preservation of India’s cultural legacy.

6. Building a comprehensive database of both stolen and currently owned antiques and artefacts is crucial. The Central Information Commission has recommended that there is an immediate need for a centralised public documentation system that includes the specifics and images of stolen antiquities.

7. Strengthening the Legal Framework: Pass and implement strict legislation to stop the smuggling and export of antiques.

8. Better Law Enforcement: To detect and stop the smuggling of antiquities, law enforcement officials should get specialised training.

9. Digital documentation creates comprehensive records of antiquities using contemporary technologies such as 3D scanning and digital documentation. This supports conservation, research, and repatriation initiatives.

10. Better Archaeological Surveys identifying and documenting sites that may be subject to looting or encroachment requires systematic, routine archaeological surveys.

 11. Heritage Conservation Zones create designated areas surrounding significant historical sites where building and development are closely controlled to preserve the cultural legacy.

12. It is necessary to establish a comprehensive national system and policy for heritage protection.[12]

13. It is important to urge people to voluntarily register their antiquities and to have faith that the government won’t bother them.

14. Even for the export of handcrafted idols, the State Archaeological Department must sign a joint clearance certificate.

15. All districts will establish special courts that will hear cases involving idol theft only.


  1. Subhash Chandra Ka Poor VS The Inspector of Police:

The accused in Subhash Chandra Kapoor v. the Inspector of Police is an American citizen who was detained in Germany with the intention of being charged in the Special Court of Idol Theft Cases, Kumbakonam. Eighteen panchaloha idols were taken in 2008 from the Tamil Nadu temples of Vardharaja Perumal Thirukovil and Arulmigu Sundereswarar in the Udayarapalayam Taluk. A Udayarapalayam police inspector filed a case over the same. Seven people were implicated in the aforementioned incident, it was discovered during the investigation. The idols haven’t been found despite an investigation and recording of the confessions made by the arrested accused. The petitioner contended in September 2022 that the idols were acquired legally and in accordance with documentation from the Institutions/Governments/Persons as stated in law. The plea for the prosecution witnesses to be cross-examined was denied by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate. Most recently, in October 2022, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a complaint to look into the idol theft case after the Madras High Court ordered the Kumbakonam Court to finish the trial in a month. The aforementioned instance highlights the necessity of including “idols” in the Act’s definition of antiquities.

2. Ram Lal Narang Etc. VS State of Delhi (Admn.):

A criminal case that resulted from F.I.R. 72 of 1967 against one Sri Bali Ram Sharma and two other people for the theft of two extremely valuable, beautiful, and old sandstone pillars from the Suraj Kund Temple in the village of Amin, District of Karnal, was settled with the accused being found not guilty.[13]  These two sandstone pillars that had been taken from the accused were given to the then-Chief Judicial Magistrate, Narinder Nath Malik (N. N. Malik), an alleged research scholar and friend of H. L. Mehta, upon his application during the case’s pendency. The pillars were under the care of N. N. Malik from 1-3-1968 to 27-5-1968. Following the accused’s acquittal on 16-7-1968, the pillars were given to the village amender of Amin. It was then discovered that the pillars that Malik had brought back were fakes rather than the originals. We are confident that the investigative agency acted without malice, even though it would have been preferable if it had notified the Ambala Magistrate and requested his official authorization for the second investigation. The fact that nothing criminal has happened also satisfies us. Consequently, both appeals are denied.

3. Cbi VS Pritam Chand Kaushal:

The case’s facts, as supported by the record, state that the CBI filed case RC 5(E)/98/SIU­IX/New Delhi regarding the theft of antiquities from its Malkhana. In the course of the investigation into the aforementioned case, on August 4, 1999, Inspector U.K. Goswami carried out raids at the accused’s residence, which is located on the front first floor of C­72, Niti Bagh. Shri S.C. Sharan and Shri Ram Niwas, who work for the Archaeological Survey of India (henceforth referred to as “ASI”), were present. Seven items that the police believed to be antiques were removed from the accused person’s home. After that, on August 9, 1999, the CBI used CFSL to take pictures of the aforementioned publications. Inspector U.K. Goswami filed a formal complaint, and the situation was investigated. A standing figure of Lord Vishnu with attendants on both sides (23.8 x 12.7 cms) was declared to be “antiquity” on September 6, 1999, after an investigation by ASI Director of Antiquity Shri Hari Manjhi examined all seven objects recovered from the accused’s possession. Subsequently, by letter dated September 16, 1999, Shri Hari Manjhi further verified to the IO that the antique in question had to be legally registered by the accused and that, according to the ASI’s records, it was not registered in the accused’s name. The accused was found to have broken the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 DOD: 18.08.2011 Treasures Act, 1972 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”), which is punishable under Section 25(2) of the Act. This was determined by the court in the case of Pritam Chand Kaushal (“Acquitted”) Page 2 of 14 RC SID 1999 E 0002. Following that, Look Out Notices were sent to police authorities in several States to inquire as to whether the aforementioned antique had been stolen from anywhere in India.[14] However, nothing conclusive could be found, hence the FIR under Sections 120 B/380/411 IPC in this particular case was abandoned.  

Since the accused’s defence in this case has been that the item in question was not found at his home, it will be seized by the state. File to be assigned to Record Room upon fulfilment of all required criteria.

4. Judgment Cbi VS Shreekant Jain Etc.:

On June 30, 1981, the 18 objects were presented to the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, for inspection. The Director General concluded that all 18 objects, including the broken pieces of the Goddess Durga statue, were antiques. The aforementioned information revealed that Kashi Nath, Ramesh, Jhanna Lal, Ashgar, and Dulal committed an offence under Section 120­B r/w 380 IPC and that Ramesh, Jhanna Lal, Ashgar, and Dulal committed substantive offences under Section 380 IPC. Additionally, Shreekant Jain violated Section 25(1) of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act 1972, as well as Section 120B r/w 25(1) of the Antiquities & Art Treasure Act 1972, Kashi Nath, Jhanna Lal, and Dulal, as well as Sections 411 and 414 of the Indian Penal Code. Sh. Ramesh, Jhanna Lal, Kashi Nath, and Dulal u/s 25(2) r/w 5 of the Antiquities & Art Treasures Act 1972; and Shreekant Jain, Kashi Nath, Ramesh, Jhanna Lal, Ashgar, and Dulal u/s 25(2) r/w 14(3) of the Antiquities & Art Act 1972. hereby set free Kashi Nath and accused Shreekant Jain from all charges brought under sections 120B/380 IPC and Section 3 of the Art & Antiquities Treasures Act, 1972.   In addition, I absolve accused Shreekant Jain of all accusations under sections 411 and 414 of the IPC, as well as sections 3 and 14(3) of the Art & Antiquities Treasures Act of 1972 and Sections 25(1) and (2) of the Act.     Their standard bail bonds are annulled, and the sureties are released.

5. Rajesh Kumar Singh VS State of Bihar:

Sections 21(b) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985, Sections 25 (1-A), 25 (1-AA), 25 (1-B) A, Sections 26(i) and 35 of the Arms Act, and Section 25(2) of the Antiquities Art Treasure Act, 1972 are all referenced in the Indian Penal Code. The appellants were found guilty in Banka P.S. case No. 291 of 2005 by the First Additional Sessions Judge, Banka, on June 1, 2009, and June 8, 2009, respectively. They were sentenced to two years of rigorous imprisonment for being found guilty under Sections 414, 149 of the Indian Penal Code, ten years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 1, 00000/-, and two years of imprisonment in default for being found guilty under Section 21(b) of the N.D.P.S. Act.[15]

The appellants were found guilty under Section 25 (1-A) read with Section 35 of the Arms Act and were sentenced to ten years in prison and a fine of Rs. 5,000. If they did not pay the fine, they would have been placed under arrest for a year. Additionally, they have been sentenced to life in prison and a fine of Rs. 10,000 if they fail to pay the fine for one year under Section 25 (1-A A) read with Section 35 of the Arms Act, as well as three years under Section 25 (1-B) A read with Section 35 of the Arms Act and a fine of Rs. 5,000 if they fail to pay the fine for six months. The appellants were found guilty under Section 25(2) of the Antiquities Art and Treasure Act, 1972, and were also sentenced to seven years each of rehabilitation and a fine of Rs. 5,000/-if they did not pay the fine. They would also be subject to six months of imprisonment. The appellants have opted to file these appeals against the trial court’s verdict of conviction and sentence. In light of all the available facts and evidence, the trial court’s conviction decision regarding the charges brought against the appellants is deemed unsustainable and is revoked. All appellants are being held in custody; if they do not wish to be kept in jail in relation to any other matter, they are to be rescued immediately.


An important piece of law in India, the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, of 1972, aims to safeguard the nation’s rich cultural legacy, which includes antiquities, artefacts, and art treasures of historical, archaeological, and artistic significance. The Act, which was passed on December 9, 1972, aims to protect these priceless cultural artefacts from unlawful export, sale, and trafficking while also ensuring their continued existence for future generations. The Act divides antiquities into two categories: “art treasures” and “antiquities.” Objects over a century old with historical or archaeological significance are considered antiquities. On the other hand, items of artistic significance, regardless of age, are referred to as art treasures.

With the aim to promote international dialogue about the restoration of property that has been unjustly carried from one nation to another, UNESCO established the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property (ICPRCP) in 1978. However, a lot of nations (including Britain) have tight regulations that limit the removal of items from public collections because doing so puts their museums at risk of being completely empty. They argue that since India was once a part of the British Empire, their actions were not theft but rather simple relocation, which justifies their noncompliance with the ICPRCP’s provisions. This has shown to be a significant obstacle to returning Indian artefacts to their former glory. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is established under the Act, is essential to the administration and preservation of these art treasures and antiquities. Throughout the years, the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act has been crucial in protecting India’s rich historical and artistic history, preventing the illicit trafficking in cultural artefacts, and preserving the nation’s diversified and ancient past. Nonetheless, the government, law enforcement, and the general public must continue to work together and make constant efforts to counter the threats posed by the theft, smuggling, and illegal trade of antiquities and works of art.


  1. Forum IAS, https://forumias.com/blog/antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-in-india-an-analysis/ (November 08, 2023)
  2. Jus Corpus Law Journal, https://www.juscorpus.com/antiquities-and-art-treasure-act-1972-a-critical-appraisal/ (November 08, 2023)
  3. PW Only IAS, https://pwonlyias.com/current-affairs/antiquities-and-art-treasure-act/ (November 08,2023)
  4. JVS, https://www.jatinverma.org/analysis-of-antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-in-india (November 08,2023)
  5. Drishti, https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/menace-of-missing-antiquities-in-india#:~:text=The%20Antiquities%20and%20Art%20Treasures,for%20at%20least%20100%20years. (November 08, 2023
  6. The Law Communicants, https://thelawcommunicants.com/the-antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-1972/ (November 08, 2023)
  7. Byju’s, https://byjus.com/question-answer/antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-1972-has-long-outlived-the-purpose-for-which-it-was/ (November 08, 2023)
  8. Indian Kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/889775/#:~:text=An%20application%20filed%20by%20Ramlal,a%20case%20on%20the%20same , (November 09, 2023)
  9. Indian Kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/143741690/ (November 09, 2023
  10. Indian Kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/docfragment/1079239/?formInput=antiquities%20and%20art%20treasure%20act%20%20doctypes%3A%20judgments , (November 09, 2023)

[1] Forum IAS, https://forumias.com/blog/antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-in-india-an-analysis/ (November 08, 2023)

[2] Jus Corpus Law Journal, https://www.juscorpus.com/antiquities-and-art-treasure-act-1972-a-critical-appraisal/ (November 08, 2023)

[3] PW Only IAS, https://pwonlyias.com/current-affairs/antiquities-and-art-treasure-act/ (November 08,2023)

[4] JVS, https://www.jatinverma.org/analysis-of-antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-in-india (November 08,2023)

[5] Drishti, https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/menace-of-missing-antiquities-in-india#:~:text=The%20Antiquities%20and%20Art%20Treasures,for%20at%20least%20100%20years. (November 08, 2023

[6] The Law Communicants, https://thelawcommunicants.com/the-antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-1972/ (November 08, 2023)

[7] Byju’s, https://byjus.com/question-answer/antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-1972-has-long-outlived-the-purpose-for-which-it-was/ (November 08, 2023)

[8] Forum IAS, https://forumias.com/blog/antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-in-india-an-analysis/ (November 09, 2023)

[9] Jus Corpus Law Journal, https://www.juscorpus.com/antiquities-and-art-treasure-act-1972-a-critical-appraisal/ (November 09, 2023)

[10] PW Only IAS, https://pwonlyias.com/current-affairs/antiquities-and-art-treasure-act/ (November 09,2023)

[11] JVS, https://www.jatinverma.org/analysis-of-antiquities-and-art-treasures-act-in-india (November 09,2023)

[12] Drishti, https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/menace-of-missing-antiquities-in-india#:~:text=The%20Antiquities%20and%20Art%20Treasures,for%20at%20least%20100%20years. (November 09, 2023

[13] Indian Kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/889775/#:~:text=An%20application%20filed%20by%20Ramlal,a%20case%20on%20the%20same , (November 09, 2023)

[14] Indian Kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/143741690/ (November 09, 2023)

[15] Indian Kanoon, https://indiankanoon.org/docfragment/1079239/?formInput=antiquities%20and%20art%20treasure%20act%20%20doctypes%3A%20judgments , (November 09, 2023)

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