The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai on Tuesday expressed strong disapproval of the way in which the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was taking forward the excavation work at Keezhadi in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu.
The excavations done so far had pointed out to possibilities of a civilisation on the banks of the Vaigai.
Wondering why the ASI transferred Superintending Archaeologist Amarnath , who was instrumental in excavating the site at the first instance, a Division Bench of Justices A. Selvam and N. Authinathan directed a public interest litigation petitioner on the issue to file another petition by June 23 with a plea to bring back the officer to Keezhadi for continuing the third phase of excavations.
Concurring with PIL petitioner Kanimozhi Mathi that the excavation works were slowed down intentionally, Justice Selvam said: “There seems to be an oblique motive behind the officer's transfer. You spoil the excavation works by doing such things.”
However, ASI counsel S. Shanmugaselvam said that Amarnath was transferred along with many other staff across the country.
When Justice Authinathan wanted to know what objection could the ASI have for establishing a site museum at Keezhadi, counsel told the court that 'Report Writing' work with respect to the artefacts excavated so far was underway at the ASI facility in Bengaluru and that the articles could be returned to the State government only after completion of the work.
Later, the judges adjourned further hearing in the case to June 23.
Ms. Mathi approached the court last year with a plea to restrain the ASI from taking away the artefacts outside Tamil Nadu. However, another Division Bench of the High Court permitted them to be taken to Bengaluru as it was told that 'Report Writing' facilities were available only there.