India’s Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904, was enacted to protect ancient monuments, sites and remains and prevent excavation at sites of historical interest and value. Monuments, sites and remains that were protected under the 1904 act were later declared as monuments and archaeological sites of national importance under the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Declaration of National Importance) Act, 1951.
To bring the 1951 act at par with constitutional provisions and effectively preserve the country’s archaeological wealth, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, was enacted, which provides for the preservation of monuments, sites and remains of national importance; the regulation of archaeological excavations; and the protection of sculptures, carvings and similar objects.
Under the 1958 act, “ancient monument” means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years. The term includes: (i) the remains of an ancient monument; (ii) the site of an ancient monument; (iii) such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving such monument; and (iv) the means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument.
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