Finding that the availability of stamps of Tamil inscriptions in Chennai instead of Mysuru can facilitate academic access to nearly 60% of unpublished inscriptions, the Madras High Court ordered the Union government to establish a separate epigraphy (Tamil) office in Chennai within six months.
Seeking that a center on stamping (printing of an inscription made on inked paper) be set up on the lines of Epigraphy Branch (Arabic and Persian inscriptions) in Nagpur, a division bench comprising Judge N Kirubakaran (since (retired) and Judge M Duraiswamy said: “The inscriptions are the main sources for reconstructing the history of the people, society, economic conditions, religion, water supply system, irrigation, etc. They shed more light on the past history of the Tamils. ”
The court ordered the Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to transfer all stamps and other related Tamil documents and inscriptions from Mysuru to the Southern Zone Epigraphy Branch, Chennai, or to the proposed separate center in the six months.
By instructing ASI to appoint the required number of epigraphists and officials based on the number of inscriptions in each language, the bench asked the state government to provide all the infrastructure for the proposed center.
“The central government and ASI will allocate more funds to the ASI epigraphy division for the research and preservation of stampings and other documents within six months,” added the bench. He also requested the sanction of at least 100 positions in the Epigraphy Division, noting that he only assigned 38 positions to the Epigraphy Division out of 738 positions created and sanctioned for ASI.
Justifying its decision to direct the center’s move to Chennai, the bench said: “A full-fledged office for Tamil inscriptions will solve the problem of new discoveries that have yet to be discovered in remote places in Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country.
New discoveries may be prompted by the Tamil wing of Chennai. Publishing and scanning will be easy in Chennai rather than Mysuru, as all modern technology is available in Chennai to speed up the work.
“The very purpose of the creation of the epigraphic wing in 1887 by ASI under E Hultszch in Chennai would be accomplished by moving Tamil stampings to Chennai, as it was founded by the British”, added the bench.