The Ancient Monuments and Preservation Act was enacted in 1904 with an objective to preserve and protect the historical monuments and the ancient articles of historical, creative or archeological interest. The legislation further aims to exercise command over traffic in archeological findings, prevent excess digging in certain areas and for the preservation and attainment of historic monuments.
The Act defines ancient monuments as any erection, construction or monument, any tumulus or area of entombment and includes any cave, rock statue, writings etc that are historically important. The ancient monument also consists of the site of historical monument, the piece of land that is adjacent to the site where ancient sculpture is situated for the purpose of fencing such area and the convenient supervision of the monument. The Act further explains the meaning of antiquities as any object that can be moved and due to the ancient or historical associations necessary to protect against injury, removal or dispersion.
The Central government shall proclaim by notification any historical monument to be protected by publishing in the Gazette of India. The duplicate of the notification published by the Central government shall be affixed in some noticeable place or close to the monument. In addition the notice shall also contain an indication that any objections regarding the matter in the notification shall be considered by the Central Government within the prescribed period. After the specified period the Central government shall either authenticate or vacate the notification. The protected monuments shall be purchased or obtained on lease, admit as gift or donation by the Collector with the approval of the Central government. The Commissioner shall be constituted as the guardian of the historical monument by the owner of the protected historical monuments by written document. The Central Government shall direct the Commissioner to admit the guardianship granted by the owner.
The owner and the Central government shall enter into agreement for the conservation of any protected monument as proposed by the Collector in his district. The Agreement shall consist of safeguarding ancient monument, the supervision of the monument or to determine the duties of the person employed to look after such monument, limit the rights of the owner to demolish, confiscate, alter or disfigure the monument etc. Where the land is tendered for sale by the real owner of the property where the monument is situated, the right to acquire such property shall vest with the Central Government but at its market value.
The terms of the agreement entered by the owner and the Central government shall be altered or terminated according to the conditions prescribed under the Act. Where a protected monument is under danger of destruction or alteration, the Central government shall acquire the property according to the procedures provided under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The Central government is also empowered to impose restrictions on mining near to the areas where the ancient monuments are protected. The place of worship shall also be protected from pollution, exploitation and desecration if it is inconsistent with the provisions of the Act. In addition, the Central Government has also power to control the transfer of monument, carvings and any other articles of historical importance.
The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 was amended in 1932 by the Ancient Monuments Preservation (Amendment) Act. In 1958, the Central Government enacted The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Site and Remains Act. Further, the Parliament also formulated The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010. The main purpose of the Act was to preserve the historic monuments and archeological areas and regulate the mines to protect the ancient carvings and the articles of national importance.