Plea seeks CBI probe into missing Ravi Varma paintings

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court, on Friday, directed the State government to inform the court about its views on a writ petition seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe (CBI) into the missing of certain original works of painter Raja Ravi Varma from State government custody and the reported smuggling of these works. The Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice P.R. Raman, gave the direction when a petition filed by Archana Narayanan, lawyer and great grand niece of Raja Ravi Varma, came up for hearing.

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 were exhibited at the Sree Chitra Art Gallery, Thiruvananthapuram, which is managed 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 off 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 fraudulently dealt with and indulged in their smuggling.