M.L. Jain -
(1.)It is alleged that the accused Narang brothers proprietors of the Narang Overseas (Pvt.) Ltd., Delhi, were engaged in exporting antiquities outside India. In May, 1965, they exported 12 cases including a rare 10th century stone sculpture of Shiva Parbati mounted on Nandi valued at several lakhs to M/s Everest Rissiga Inc. New York. The second consignment consisting of 16 cases containing antiquities was intercepted and seized in Oct. 1965 before shipment was completed. These activities relate to R.C. No. 17/66 and R.C. No. 21/66, while the present case pertains to R.C. No. 4/76, which arose like this. In 1920, two sand-stone three feet high pillars with carved human figures were struck by a farmer while ploughing a field and were removed and placed at the Suraj Kund temple in village Amin in District Karnal of Haryana. They were being worshipped by the people and had found mention in the report of the Archeological Survey of India of 1921-22. They disappeared in the night intervening 31.3.67 and 1.4.67. A case was registered in the Police Station, Bhutana, u/s 380 IPC. The pillars were recovered on 2.5.1967 from Faridabad and were kept in the strong room of the said police station. On 6.7. 7 a team of experts from the National Musem, New Delhi, after examining the pillars, found that they were of great antiquity and value, being of Sunga period, 2nd Century B.C. A charge sheet was filed in the court of Shri R.K. Sen, Judicial Mgte., Karnal, against Bali Ram Sharma and others u/s 380/120-B IPC. In Feb. 1968, the said Narang Brothers got scent of the value of these pillars and they devised a scheme to acquire them. Accused Ram Lal Narang accompanied by their friend Narender Nath Malik of Karol Bagh and Shri B.N. Nagpal, District and Sessions Judge, Delhi, went to Karnal and met Shri Hira Lal Mehra, CJM Karnal, who though on transfer, was still there busy packing during the joining time. They contacted Shri Sen through Shri Mehra and Shri Adish Kumar Jain, a Sub- Judge. Prompted by a promise of a large price for the job, Malik made an application on 1.3.1968 written in his own hand and presented it in Chamber to the said R.K. Sen requesting for release of the pillars to him from the police custody on pretext that they were required for archaeological study for a temporary period. He claimed that he was an eminent arcliaeologist, and that he was so, was certified by the said Shri Mehra. Shri Sen called a report from the Police. A head constable who claimed to be the S.H.O. in the absence of his superiors, already chanced to to be there and made the requisite report at the instanct of Shri Mehra that the police and Panchayat had no objection to the request of Shri Malik. Since Shri Sen was, due to some burn injuries, unable to write. Shri Mehra wrote the order for him and Shri Sen signed it, allowing release of the pillars from Bhutana P.S. to the custody of Malik. The pillars were then brought in a truck to the Defence Colony residence of Narang brothers at Delhi and then to their factory in Kotia Mubarakpur where replicas of the original pillars were prepared with the help of well known sculptor brothers BalKishan and Natwar Lal. On 27.5.68 one set of the replicas was delivered in the court and deposited in the strong room of P.P., Karnal, upon the orders of Shri Sen. The case in the court of Shri Sen ended in an acquittal on 27.9.68 and the pillars were directed to be handed over to Amin Temple. Later on, Narangs got two more sets of replicas prepared on the basis of photograph and tracings which had been taken at the time of preparation of the first sets of replicas. One of these two sets was intercepted in Dec. 1968 while being taken out of India and were suspected to be valuable antiques. The SPE launched an investigation, vide RC 8/1969. On 28.2.1970 an expert of the National Museum examined the pillars at Amin and he declared that they were fake. Malik was arrested on 8.5.1970 in that case. Thereafter, one more case R.C. No. 2/71 was registered on 19.2.71 u/s 120-B/420/406 IPC. That the original pillars had been replaced by the replicas was further confirmed by a committee of six experts on 29.2.72. After investigation a charge sheet was filed on 30.12.72 in the court of Special Judge, Arnbala, u/s 120-B/420 IPC against Malik and Mehra. It appears that the original pillars along with a set of replicas had been smuggled out of India and had arrived in London sometime in 1974-75. In may, 1976, the CBI received information from the Scotland Yard that the original pillars were lying in the warehouse of M/s Spinks and Sons London, and M.L. Narang @ Manu Narang was trying to dispose of them at a fabulous price. On 5.5.76 the pillars were seized by the London Police and Manu Narang was arrested on 6.5.76. On 11.5.76 the pillars were shown to an expert of British Museum, London who was of the opinion that those were the original ones and belonged to 2nd century B.C. Then, on 13.5.76 R.C. 4/76 was registered u/s 411 IPC and S. 25 of the Antiquities and Art Treassures Act, 1972 read with S. 120-B Indian Penal Code against Manu Narang and others. On 26.6.1976 Malik confessed and asked for pardon. He was granted pardon on 3.7.76, Malik, Nagpal and Adish Jain have since then died. Charge sheet was filed on 20.7.1976. In August, 1976 an Indian expert sent to London and he identified the pillars in the Scotland Yard. On 30.12.1976, the London Police handed over the pillars to the Indian High Commission. They were brought to India on 7.5.1977 and lodged in the National Museum where they are on display. On 16.5.1977 the case against H.L. Mehra pending in Ambala was allowed to be withdrawn and a Supplementary charge sheet was filed on 1.11.1977 roping H.L. Mehra in the present case.
(2.)The Government of U.K. was requested for extradition of the accused in all the three cases mentioned above. A Met. Sti. Mgte. committed them to prison pending their return to India. The orders of detention were revoked on a writ of habeas corpus by the Q.B.D. on the ground that a fair trial after such a long period was not assured in India. But the House of Lords disagreed with this view on 23.3.1977 and restored the orders of the Magistrate in respect of the offence relating to pillars only, vide Union of India v. Manoharlal Narang (1977)2 All.E.R. (HL) 348. The result was that Manu Narang and Om Parkash Narang were extradited and brought from London on 27.7.1977 for being tried here in this case along with Ramlal Narang. Mehra applied for pardon on 14.3.1978. On 19.3.1978 he was granted pardon and the case was committed to the court of Sessions. On 8.5.1979 charges were framed against the accused u/s 120-B, 406, 411,409 and 409 and 109 IPC. No charge was framed u/s 25 of the A&AT Act, 1972 because the learned Additional Sessions Judge thought that the Act came into force after offence was committed. They pleaded not guilty. Prosecution evidence commenced on 16.7.1979. The 131 witnesses comprised Indian as well as foreign nationals.
(3.)On 6.6.1980 the learned trial Judge directed that in case witnesses are to be examined on commission, the Prosecution should obtain necessary orders well in time so that the dates fixed for examination of witnesses do not go waste. Yet no steps were taken and in spite of several requests of the defence to proceed with the case day-to-day, it proceeded with the pace in the manner other cases in our courts do. On 14.4.1982 the case was adjourned to 14.5.1982 for prosecution evidence. On 16.4.1982, the accused filed an application for postponing the date. The court rejected the application, but directed the prosecution to bring all local witnesses on 14.5.1982 and to give a list containing the name of the witnesses who are abroad and are proposed to be examined. The order sheet of 14.5.1982 shows that the two local witnesses, he failed to appear. The court directed that they be produced on 30.7.1982 the date fixed for examination of two foreign witnesses namely (1) F.G. Haire and (2). Allan Branch, detective seargent. But only one of them, namely Allan Branch arrived. His examination was concluded on 5.8.1982. But the other witness failed to turn up.