The 108-carat Koh-i-Noor gem, which came into British hands during the colonial era, is the subject of a historic ownership dispute and has been claimed by at least four countries including India.
India’s Solicitor General (SG) sparked uproar after telling the Supreme Court, which is hearing a suit seeking return of the stone, on Monday that the gem was given to the British and not stolen.
“The government of India wishes to put on record that certain news items appearing in the press regarding the Kohinoor Diamond are not based on facts,” the government said in a statement late Tuesday.
“[The government]… further reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor Diamond in an amicable manner,” it added.
SG Ranjit Kumar told the court that 19th-century Sikh king Ranjit Singh had given the gem to Britain.
“It was given voluntarily by Ranjit Singh to the British as compensation for help in the Sikh Wars. The Koh-i-Noor is not a stolen object,” Kumar said.
The government said Tuesday that the SG’s comments did not reflect the official stance of the government.
It added that what the SG said was a “preliminary submission” and had references to stands taken by earlier governments including India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1956, when he said “there was no ground to claim this art treasure back.”
It cited three other “significant pieces of India’s history coming back home” from Australia, Canada and Germany since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014.
“Thus, with regard to the Kohinoor Diamond too, Government of India remains hopeful for an amicable outcome whereby India gets back a valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history,” it said.
The Koh-i-Noor diamond is now set in the crown that was worn by Queen Elizabeth’s mother until her death in 2002, and is on public display in the Tower of London.
Its name translates as “Mountain of Light” and it is traditionally worn by a queen — it is said to bring bad luck to any man who wears it.