From the issues of Stamps of India Collectors Companion

Part 20, Issue # 79 - August 22, 2002

As we have mentioned in the previous issue we continue to focus on some more luminaries of Indian Philately who should have lead by example the new and upcoming philatelists, yet their focus seems to be personal and individualistic rather than for the betterment of the hobby or the collectors.

The current President of the Philatelic Congress of India (PCI) from 2000 till date Sahadeva Sahoo has also been the President-Elect for 1998-2000 and Vice President from 1996-1998 and yet he has been selling philatelic material including antiquities abroad for over two decades. 

He has sold philatelic material worth several hundred thousands US dollars abroad. A large part of his sales abroad consisted of items over 100 years old that were antiquities as per the Indian Antiquities & Art Treasures Act 1972. Where from and how he had obtained these philatelic gems in the first place is another story. He has been reported in newspapers for corruption and irregularities since 1980 when he was an Officer of the Orissa State Government.

Sahoo as National commissioner along with B K Sinha as Assistant National Commissioner carried hundreds of antiquities for Bangkok 2000 World Stomp Exhibition without taking the requisite permissions from ASI. A list of participating exhibits, carried abroad without the mandatory ASI Permit, was proudly published with the awards in the January-March 2000 issue of PCI's official journal 'Signet' as follows: 

Kanungo J N - Early India Postmarks (1854 - 1899)- LS
Sahoo Sahadeva - Postal History of Orissa (1803 - 1873)- LV
Sinha Bijoy K - Universal Postal Unio (1880 - 1824)- CP
Ahmed Shakil - Archaeolgoy - B
Chaturvedi Naresh - Study of Birds through Stamps - CP
Mothero Daniel - The Swan Family - B
Sinha Bijoy K - Univ. Postal Union - 75th Anniversary - B
Malaviya R A - Sorth Stamps and Postal History- V
Sarawagi Radha Krishna - Brahimini Dawk - History of Postal Communication in Mewar State - V+SP
Iqbal Asif - Indian Aerophilately Flight Covers - V
Jamal Arif - India Pre Independence 19th Century - LS
Kumar Rajeev - Indian Aerophilately 1911 - 1946 - LS
Salahudeen H - Great Britain up to Victoria - S
Goyal Sachin -The Story and Study of Flowers - SB
Raut Anshuman - Gwalior State of India - SB
Dash Biswajit - Scouts and Guides - B
Moomin Sinha - World Refugee Year - B

Should we proudly look only at the awards won, or should we follow the law of the land?

M G Pittie, who is the Immediate Past President of Philatelic Congress of India, was also the Secretary General from 1982-1987, Vice President from 1990-1998 and the President from 1998-2000. In spite of having an illustrious philatelic career, where he has enjoyed perks like free air tickets, five star accommodation for two, free local transport, and a per day allowance in cash for being an international jury, has indulged in activities that are unbecoming to his larger than life stature. In 2001 alone he traveled to Hong Kong, Nepal, UAE, Japan, Denmark, UAE again, and Taipei as a Jury. We wonder, is he the only qualified Jury from India?

In 1986 Pittie carried the exhibits belonging to Dhirubhai Mehta of Mumbai, S B Kothari and P Gupta (two exhibits) of Kolkata, and R Dangi of Indore, to AMERIPEX 86, USA without any clearances from the ASI. These exhibits contained hundreds of unique antiquities that were then valued at Rs. 15 million although their declared value to Reserve Bank of India and Customs was only 0.5 million. He was carrying the exhibits along with his wife, between Toronto (Canada) and Chicago (USA) when these were purportedly lost. The exhibits were not insured even though the exhibitors paid the amount of insurance premium to Pittie. The FBI registered the case at the request of Indian Consulate at Chicago. The January 15, 1987 issue of 'India Today' carried a story on this episode. The report of this loss in media alerted the officers of various departments to look out for philatelic items in the international travelers baggage.

When Dilip Shah was stopped in 1988 while going to Finland by the customs authorities in Mumbai, the ASI issued the first TEP for carrying the philatelic antiquities out of the country. Since then the commissioners have selectively approached the ASI for issuing of the TEP. A M Mollah took the ASI permit for the exhibits to be carried to the world philatelic exhibition at Korea in 1984 where Dilip Shah was awarded the Grand Prix de Honor and Pittie was a Jury. Yet Pittie has carried exhibits containing antiquities without ASI Permit for other exhibitions abroad on several occasions prior to 1988 as well as after and still continues to do so. He carried his exhibit of "Hyderabad Classics" as recently as 2001 to Hong Kong for display in the Court of Honor at 15th Asian International Stamp Exhibition without ASI Permit. 

It seems taking the requisite permissions is just a matter of convenience for national commissioners and international jury members!

A R Singhee, as we all know is the Vice President of the Philatelic Congress of India (PCI) since 1994 till date. He has also been the Secretary of PCI for 1998-2000. He is one of the main functionaries of PCI. 

Since early 1990's he has been traveling internationally to attend international exhibitions in various capacity including as member of the Jury.These travels have given Mr. Singhee the opportunity to interact with collectors / auctioneers from all over the world and he has been selling philatelic material including antiquities to collectors / dealers all over the world.

His main exhibit 'Postal Stationery of the Indian Feudatory States' that contains antiquities participated in BANGKOK 1993, PHILAKOREA 1994, and FINLANDIA 1995 with the mandatory ASI Permit. G Madan Mohan Das, A M Mollah and Y Kumar as national commissioners respectively carried it to Bangkok, Seoul and Helsinki.

Yet when in 1996 Singhee himself traveled as a Judge to the STAMPSHOW 1996 national philatelic exhibition at Melbourne, Australia he carried the above exhibit without the mandatory ASI Permit. He also displayed this exhibit on October 17, 1996 at a talk to the Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria that is reported in the December 1996 issue of 'Philately from Australia' as follows:

"The meeting on 17 October 1996 was held during the staging of Stampshow '96 in Melbourne and many interstate members and visitors were present. The display was provided by Mr. Ajeet Singhee from India, who was the A P F sponsored judge at the exhibition.

Mr. Singhee's subject was the Postal Stationery of the Indian Feudatory States, and comprised selections from eight States.

From Bamra, the 1888 6 pies black envelope was shown in two sizes, and the various settings of the 1890 ?a postcard were displayed. This card was shown used in combination with 1/2a and 2a British India.

The postcards of Barwani are a complex study, and the various printings were shown in depth. There was a 1934 proof block of 4 of the 1/2a clich? in black used for the cards.

The issue of Bhopal began with the 19031/2a postcard mint, and the 1/2a green postcard used with 1/2a British India added. The various settings of the 1903 1/2a green envelope were demonstrated and there was arrange of the 1908 1/4a Service postcards with views. In 1922 there was a 1/2a on 1/4a essay surcharge in red on the Service postcard.

The postal stationery of Duttia includes some of the rarest and most unusual material and there is still much to be learnt about the chronology of the early issues. The first issue is thought to consist of a 1/4a postcard and ?a envelope produced entirely in manuscript. Examples of each of these were shown. Subsequent postcards included the only recorded example of the 1893 1/4a brown-red with native heading, and the similar card with English heading. The issues of 1896 - 98 of the 1/2a black envelope was present mint and used, and there was one of the two recorded examples of the 1/2a black "Ganesh" envelope used. The envelope issues of 1896 - 97 showed the various paper stocks and settings used, and there were mint and used examples of the 1900 1/2a green.

In Jammu and Kashmir there was a study of the settings of the 1883 - 91 1/4a red postcards, and the unissued 1894 Service postcard.

The 1899 1/2a blue and 1a green envelope of Kishengarh were shown in various shades, and there were examples of the 1a brown-lilac envelope of the same year. There was a mint example of the 1901 1/4a rose-carmine postcard with inverted stamp impression. The 1906 1/4a postcard (Perkins Bacon design) included a proof showing the heading inverted, and there were die proofs of the 1/2a carmine-red and 1a blue envelope stamps in the same design; the 1a was never used.

The used 1900 1/2a green envelope of Orchha was one of two recorded examples.

From Sirmoor came the interesting usage of remainders of the postcards as Court Fee stamps on documents. The original 1897 3pies card was shown mint and in die proof form."

Definitely a proud moment for Indian philately yet a sad moment for the law abiding citizens of India.


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