The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act came into force on 29th March 2010 (“The Act”) of its Principal Act which was enacted in the year 1958. This Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (“Principal Act, 1958”) was enacted for the preservation of Ancient Monuments and archaeological sites of National importance. This Principal Act, 1958 provides regulation of archaeological excavations and protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.
The Act was to make provisions for validation of certain actions taken by the Central Government under the said Act with the help of National Monument Authority as per Section 20F. This Act includes amendments and insertions in Section 2,4A and 20A of the Parent Act, 1958. As per Section 20I, this National Monument Authority makes recommendation to Central Government for categorization and classifications of protective monuments and protective area as per Section 3 and 4.This National Monument Authority also supervises the working of Competent Authority, who is not less than Commissioner appointed by Department of Archaeology Central and State Governments, etc,.
The Act amended Section 2 with an intention to simplify the Definition Clause of the Principal Act, 1958. The Act made an insertion of Section 4A to deal with clear categorization and classification of Ancient Monuments or Archaeological Sites and to remain declared it as of National importance under Section 3 and 4. This clear classification will be helpful for prioritization and protection of Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites. These categories shall regard to the historical, archaeological and architectural value and other factors that are relevant to this provisions. In Parent Act, 1958, these Ancient Monuments or Archaeological sites, has to be notified in the Official Gazette by Central Government with two months notice and a notification copy has to be affixed in a conspicuous place near the monuments or sites. This Act gave a crispy solution by preventing unnecessary procedures.
The Act made an insertion of Section 20A after the insertion of Section 20 in the Principal Act, 1958, on 16th June 1992. This insertion of Section 20 provides Declaration of prohibited area and carrying public work or other works in prohibited area. Under Principal Act, 1958, the Central Government could acquire any ancient monuments through the provisions under Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for public purpose without clarity. Insertion of Section 20A clears that whether protected area or protected monuments, distance of one hundred meters in all directions shall be a protective area or protected monuments. In case the protected area or protected monuments are more than one hundred meters, the Central Government should notify in Official Gazette to consider the notified extant as protected area or protected monuments.
Once declared as protected area under Section 20A, no permission shall be given for any public works after or any project essential to the public or other constructions in the prohibited/protected area. In case of any violation beyond permission, penalty under Section 30A,B and C comes in to action. These Sections specifies “Three months to Two years of imprisonment and/or fine may extend to the minimum of Five thousand to One Lakh” may be the penalty. Any offences by Government Officials shall be punished either three years of imprisonment with or without fine.
The Act contains repeal and saving clause, i.e., Section 39. It clearly says that any action taken under Principal Act should be taken under corresponding provisions of Act amended. Hon’ble Supreme Court in C.A.2430 of 2006 clearly says that the notification in Official Gazette issued prior to the Act will remain alive and same was saved under Section 39 of Principal Act, 1958. It made the Appellant to count the distance of 100 meters rather observation on physical structure.
This amendments and insertions in this Act really sharpen the procedural aspects of the Parent Act, 1958 and also helps in preventing illegal public disturbances and acquisition by Government by the Principal Act, 1958. Not only that, it also helped to achieve the clear intention of the Law makers in protecting and regulating Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites, Sculptures, Carvings, etc.