Stolen from Panjab University
Yet again an another smuggling case of Le Corbusier Heritage Chairs is out by Custom department. As per sources these heritage chairs are stolen from Panjab Univeristy and are going to be auctioned soon in foreign country. Delhi and Chandigarh Custom Department with the help of Ajay Jagga, Chandigarh based Heritage expert and Chairperson of Heritage protection committee have captured this smuggling.
Panjab University has yet to give their official nod on this but as per sources revealed that all the heritage chairs are belong to Panjab University. Talking on this Jagga said that Yes, smuggling of heritage furniture is found and caught. It is still under investigation, soon detailed report would be out.
In the month of May 2018, another auction of heritage furniture went under the hammer in Paris. While the auction price of a pair of armchair designed by Corbusier and Jeanneret has been kept between Rs 48 lakh and Rs 64 lakh, another lot of armchair has been priced between Rs 12 lakh and Rs 16 lakh. Ajay Jagga, a member of Heritage Protection Committee, has written a letter to Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Director Revenue Intelligence, giving advance intimation about the auction.
In the letter he has quoted the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, which, u/s 2 clearly says that “public property” means any property, whether immovable or movable (including any machinery) which is owned by, or in the possession of, or under the control of the Central government; or any state government. And it further says that that whoever commits mischief by doing any act in respect of any public property, other than public property of the nature referred to in sub-section (2), shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and with fine.
Several auctions have taken place abroad in recent times. However, despite intimation in advance about the auctions, nothing has been done. Last year, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) wrote to the Punjab government to initiate action under conduct rules against their official N P S Randhawa, former museum director, for his alleged transactions with a businessman accused of antique smuggling of furniture from Chandigarh. Punjab Local Bodies and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu had also written to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asking him to dismiss the official. Sidhu said the vigilance department was with the chief minister and only he could order an inquiry into the case. The minister even said that if nothing happens, he would get an FIR filed in the case as tourism minister. But, to date, nothing has been done.