Making transparent the business of antiques

“In all the antique religions, mythology takes the place of dogma; that is, the sacred lore of priests and people … and these stories afford the only explanation that is offered of the precepts of religion and the prescribed rules of ritual” - is how William Robertson Smith, the nineteenth century Scottish Orientalist and an editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica saw the place of antiques in a nation’s life.

Thus, to preserve one’s tradition, a country’s antiques need to be safeguarded. Faced with growing pressure to stop rampant looting of the country’s cultural treasures and apparent limitations in the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, the government has now proposed a draft bill related to antiquities known as “The Draft Antiquities and Art Treasures Regulation, Export and Import Bill, 2017”. The proposal was made to the government by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Draft Bill is an amended version of the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972.

The Draft Bill defines “Antiquity” as certain objects like coins, sculpture, paintings over 100 years old or manuscripts over 75 years old. It has a separate category, “Art Treasure”, which has been defined as “any human work or expression of art or any art object, whether an antiquity or not, declared by the Central Government by notification, to be an art treasure for the purposes of this Act having reference to its artistic or aesthetic value.”


The Draft Bill proposes to abolish state regulation in the business of art and antiques and to provide way for free trading of antiques and artworks. This is probably the biggest change the new bill has sought to make. Once the new Antiquities and Art Treasures Regulation, Export and Import Bill, 2017, becomes a law, every licence issued under the 1972 Act will stand repealed.....Read more


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