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THE INDIAN TREASURE TROVE ACT OF 1878

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
October 2019
THE INDIAN TREASURE TROVE ACT OF 1878

“Finders, Keepers; Losers, Weepers.” That’s an old children’s rhyme that kids love to recite whenever they find something of value.

Thankfully, there are plenty of people in the world who are honest enough to return lost items to the rightful owners. Back in 2016, a Boston cab driver returned a bag containing $187,000. The money belonged to a passenger who had just collected an inheritance and was apparently going to save it the old-fashioned way: under his mattress.

But what happens when you find treasure that doesn’t seem to belong to anyone? Well, if you don’t keep quiet about it, you may lose it. That’s what happened to a man in Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh, recently. As the Press Trust of India reported, the man was digging a foundation for his home and unearthed 650 gm of gold and 4.53 kg of silver ornaments, a total value of about Rs. 25 lakh. But after news of the treasure spread around the village, the police showed up and confiscated the jewelry.

The man had violated an old law, the Indian Treasure Trove Act of 1878, which mandates that any treasure dug from the earth must be turned over to the district revenue officer.

In this case, “finders, keepers” doesn’t apply. It’s more like “finders, weepers.”


Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]



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