Srinagar: The J&K high court on Thursday directed Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate into the theft of a copy of the Holy Quran, which bears the seal of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, from the Shri Pratap Singh (SPS) Museum here in 2003.
Besides the copy of the Quran, many other prized articles, including 8 gold and 76 silver coins, went missing from the Museum.
A case FIR (No. 106/2003) was lodged in Police Station Rajbagh but investigations by executive police and crime branch were unsuccessful in cracking the case.
“We direct the investigation of FIR NO. 106/2003 shall stand transferred to CBI and CBI shall conduct the investigation in the case,” said a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, the court also directed the Crime Branch, which failed to trace the valuable manuscript despite a long-drawn-out investigation, to hand over the records pertaining to the case to the India’s premier investigation agency.
It also directed the trial court, which had accepted the Crime Branch’s closure report, to handover the case dairies to Crime Branch so as to enable it hand over the same to the CBI.
“We are further satisfied that proper and effective investigation will certainly result in tracing of the manuscript of Holy Quran as also identification of culprits,” the division bench said.
The directions by the court followed statement by Kashmir’s Inspector General of Police, admitting failure on part of the Crime Branch to investigate the case “fairly”. He had also suggested that CBI can “properly and effectively” investigate the case as it has “technical manpower and expertise to conduct the investigation in such type of cases”.
The court also expressed its displeasure over the final report (closure report) submitted by Crime Branch, observing that it does not comply with the norms of investigation. It also recorded that “slackness of trial court” while passing the order after filing of closure report by the crime branch.
“The order passed by the trial court also suffers lack of application of mind,” the division bench said.
The PIL was filed in 2008 by a Srinagar based social organisation, Valley Citizen’s Council, seeking directions for the protection and conservation of artefacts, monuments and excavation sites in Kashmir besides directions to find the manuscript of the Quran and other prized articles.
Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal Emperor, ruled over most of the Indian subcontinent during his reign, which lasted for 49 years from 1658 until his death in 1707.
The judicial intervention has already led to retrieval of 31 copper and silver coins besides one-gun bearing accession number 412 along with other artefacts from Research Wing of the SPS libraries, which were gifted to Shimla Museum in 1973.
The other artifacts include a Persian manuscript, Mughazi-ul-Nabi by Sheikh Yaqoob Sarfi (RA), a 19th century Sharda Manuscript Panchratna by Krishna Pandit, and an 18th century painting by Swachanda Bhairva.
The Kashmir University, through Director Central Asian Museum, has also handed over 209 objects which were transferred to the varsity on August 25, 1980 from SPS Museum.