A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Wednesday admitted a writ petition seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the reported missing of certain original works of Raja Ravi Varma from the State government custody.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice P.N. Ravindran issued notice to the CBI and other respondents, including the State government. The petition was filed by Archana Narayanan, lawyer and great grand niece of Raja Ravi Varma.

The petitioner said as per the records of Kilimanoor Palace, more than 75 paintings had been handed over to the then government. However, now only 55 paintings had been displayed at the Sree Chitra Art Gallery, Thiruvananthapuram. The gallery is run by the Directorate of Museum and Zoo.

The petitioner pointed out that though an inquiry was conducted on a petition filed by a relative of the petitioner, the report was vague and contradictory. She pointed out that some private art galleries had openly auctioned the masterpieces of the artist without prior permission from the Archaeological Survey of India.

It was also reported that art treasures of the country were freely put on auctions abroad. In order to prevent such illegalities, the CBI should be directed to seize such paintings of Raja Ravi Varma from those who indulged in their smuggling, she pleaded.