Bombay HC Stays Auction Of Ancient Jain Idols

Bombay HC Stays Auction Of Ancient Jain Idols

A bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla was hearing a petition by a businessman Ashok Salecha and Shree Mumbai Jain Sangh Sangathan, a religious charitable trust, seeking stay on the auction.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 12:28 AM IST
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Bombay HC Stays Auction Of Ancient Jain Idols |

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday stayed the auction of 17 ancient idols depicting Jain tirthankaras and yakshinis, worth Rs 94.50 lakh. The auction was to be held on Tuesday by Farokh Todywalla of the Todywalla Auctions for auctioning and selling antiquity online.

A bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla was hearing a petition by a businessman Ashok Salecha and Shree Mumbai Jain Sangh Sangathan, a religious charitable trust, seeking stay on the auction.

During the hearing, advocate Iyer appearing for the private auctioneers, Farokh Todywalla and Malcolm Todywalla, made a statement before the court that they would not auction the said articles. The bench has asked the state government pleader Jyoti Chavan to file a reply to the petition and kept the matter for hearing after two weeks.

The petitioners claim to be staunch followers of Jain religion and belong to the sect that practices and believes in idol worship of Tirthankars, Jain Gods, Goddesses and deities. Their plea sought to stay on the auction of the idol contending that the same should be procured, secured and preserved from being sold in a private auction and to ensure the same is made available for worship to followers.

The petitioners approached the auctioneers who assured them on April 3 that the idols would not be put up for sale. However, they subsequently learnt that the auctioneers had plans to auction the idols, hence they sent them a legal notice on April 6 asking them to give their intention in writing. However, as they did not receive any reply, the petitioners approached the HC.

The petitioners have urged the Union government and the superintendent archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India, Western Region, to ‘take custody’ of the ancient idols and stay the auction and sale of the same. “The sale of sacred ancient antique idols of Jain tirthankaras and Goddesses is a breach of fundamental rights of millions of followers of Jain religion,” the plea states.

Further, the plea has sought that the idols be inspected and a report be submitted to the court specifying whether these idols are required to be registered under section 14 of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act and whether they have been registered.

It has sought that the respondents be directed to establish a framework under section 13 of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act whereby the ancient religious idols and antiquities of Jain minority religion are preserved and sold by auction only to Religious Charitable Trusts, Societies and Association of Persons of Jain Minority community.

Also, either the petitioner Sangathan or any religious trust of the Jain minority community be appointed as a custodian of these ancient idols and perform pooja.

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