Important Judgments And Convictions
In 1951 Annamuthu Padayatchi of Sivapuram, Thanjavur unearthed 6 idols viz., Natarajar, Thirugnanasambandar, Somaskandar, Pillaiar and two Amman from his field.
The Collector of Thanjavur, handed over the 6 idols to the temple authorities of Sri Sivagurunathasamy Temple of Sivapuram as per G.O.Ms.No. 2987/Revenue Department dated 29.10.1953.
The trustees of the temple wanted to repair the idols and this work was entrusted to Ramasamy Sthapathy of Kumbakonam in the year June 1954.
In the year 1956 Thilakar of Kuttalam and his brother Doss induced Ramasamy Sthapathy to part with the original Natarajar and 5 other idols and to substitute the same with fake idols. Thilakar dispatched the original Natarajar idol to Lance Dane of Bombay, an Art Collector, arranged by Doss who kept the idol for 10 years and sold it to Bomman Beharan of Bombay who in turn sold it to Menu Narang. Benn Haller of New York bought it for 6
Lakhs rupees in 1969 and sold it to Norton Simon Foundation for USD .9
Dr.Douglass Barret of British museum, in his book on ‘South Indian Bronze’ mentioned that the Natarajar idol in Sivapuram was a fake one and the original was with a private Art Collector.
Tr.P.R.Srinivasan (curator of the Museum) alerted the Director of Museum and the Government of
TamilNadu. An enquiry conducted on this resulted in registration of a case in Natchiarkoil P.S.Cr.No.109/69 U/S 406
IPC. The Crime Branch C.I.D took up the investigation.
A special party arrested Lance Dane, Thilakar, Doss, Ramasamy Sthapathy. Tr. S. Krishnaraj, the then D.I.G, CB-CID,
TamilNadu visited United States and gathered evidence as to smuggling of the Idol. The Scotland Yard found that the Natarajar was sent to Mrs.Anna Plowden of London by Norton Simon Foundation for repairs as the idol developed corrosion and impounded it.
The Government of India filed a civil suit against the Norton Simon Foundation in England, New York and Los Angles claiming the Natarajar Idol. Thiru.K.K.Rajasekaran Nair, I.P.S, I.G.P (Crime), Madras sent a letter to the Government of
TamilNadu to request the Ministry of External Affairs to get the Idol back. Dr.M.S.Nagaraja Rao, Director-General, Archaeological Survey of India, NewDelhi got the Idol from the Indian Embassy, Washington and now the Idol is in the safe vault of Kabaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore, Chennai.
All accused arrested and convicted. There is no information about the remaining idols
Similarly in Koradachery P.S.Cr.No.323/1976, a Natarajar metal Idol belonging to Sri Viswanathasamy Temple, Pathur, Thanjavur District was smuggled out of India and was in the possession of Bumper Development Corporation of U.S.A, a giant Oil Corporation, who purchased it for 2.5
Lakhs dollars. The Idol was sent to London for curing the metal decease, where it was seized by the Scotland Yard. We won the major point in this unique case that the Natarajar Idol is a juristic person and that it can and can be sued. It has also been conceded that a Hindu Temple can establish its rights in a British court. The Natarajar Idol was brought back to India and the same was kept in the Icon Preservation Centre at Tiruvarur. The accused concerned in this case are arrested and convicted.