Indian widow told to pay 12,000 pounds to get 'stolen' George Cross back

Shimla, June 9 (IANS) The controversy over the rightful ownership of the George Cross awarded to a pre-independence Indian soldier has ended, with a court in the UK, where Ashok Nath, its current owner is settled, declaring that the medal is the property of the soldier's widow Brahmi Devi, who lives in a Himachal Pradesh village.

The medal, received by Brahmi Devi on her husband's behalf from then viceroy Field Marshal Lord Wavell in 1946, is to be kept with the British Metropolitan Police till Dec 31, said the Queen's Bench division in the high court of justice in its order last week.

The medal was allegedly stolen from Brahmi Devi's house in 2002.

But the bench, in its order dated June 5, which was accessed by IANS, said before the medal is restored to her, the defendant (Brahmi Devi) would have to pay the claimant (Nath) costs and expenses to the tune of 12,000 pounds (over Rs.10 lakh).

The court, however, clearly specifies that "in the event of default of payment by the due date (Dec 31), (the payment) shall be enforceable by the claimant against the defendant without further order".

Surinder Thakur, a Shimla-based lawyer and nephew of Brahmi Devi, told IANS Sunday that Nath's declaration in the court has paved the way for the return of the medal to India.

"We will now approach the Indian High Commission in London to get India's heritage back to the country," he said.

The court observed: "Upon hearing counsel for the claimant and for the defendant and upon the claimant declaring that from the date of this order the George Cross medal posthumously awarded to the defendant's husband, Naik Kirpa Ram, is the property of the defendant."

"It's ordered by consent that there be no order on the claim save that on or before Dec 31, 2013, the defendant do pay to the claimant."

It further said that after the payment of 12,000 pounds to Nath the medal should be delivered to Brahmi Devi's solicitors.

"My only wish is to get back the memory of my martyred husband," Brahmi Devi, 80, told IANS over phone.

Her husband was awarded the George Cross, considered the civilian counterpart of Britain's highest military decoration - the Victoria Cross - for sacrificing his life to save his comrades while disposing of a misfired rifle grenade at a camp in Bangalore Sep 12, 1945.

Brahmi Devi, who lives in a village in Bilaspur district, had reported the theft of the medal from her house Feb 3, 2002.

Nath, in one of his communications to Himachal police, said he had acquired the medal in good faith from S.L. Jain, a coin and medal dealer based in Delhi, after being shown two affidavits along with a video which convinced him that the medals had been acquired in a proper manner.

The issue of the stolen medal came to light when Britain's leading auction house Dix Noonan Webb listed the medal for auction Dec 2, 2009.

When the controversy arose, the head of auctioneers Dix Noon Webb, based in Mayfair, London, had then said that Ram's George Cross medal was "disposed of" by his widow in 2000 - and not stolen from her house as she claims.

Later, on the intervention of the Indian government, the British authorities ordered that the medal be withdrawn from the auction.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

On-field action set to divert from off-field drama

On-field action set to divert from off-field drama

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

There's a lot going on, I won't lie: Stephen Fleming

There's a lot going on, I won't lie: Stephen Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »

Pietersen’s ‘little’ secret is out

Pietersen’s ‘little’ secret is out

A fractured little finger could now throw the Delhi Daredevils captain out of action at the start of this season. More »

Supreme Court says no to BCCI’s request

Supreme Court says no to BCCI’s request

Bench refuses to grant access to recordings of Srini and Dhoni’s depositions before Mudgal committee. More »

SMA Trophy gets short-changed

SMA Trophy gets short-changed

Key players are away preparing for the IPL, taking the shine off the other domestic T20 fixture. (CYCSPL) More »

IPL’s credibility needs rebuilding

IPL’s credibility needs rebuilding

Players, coaches, team management and franchises would do well to realise that the seventh edition of the IPL is under intense scrutiny and credibility… More »