GULBARGA: The ownership of the works of noted painter S.M. Pandit, which is worth crores of rupees, has triggered a legal war in the family.
At present, the paintings are in the possession of Pandit's first wife Nalini S. Pandit, but for all practical purpose the works are with Pandit's youngest son Krishnaraj Pandit, who was instrumental in saving the paintings and exhibiting them in different parts of the country.
Everything was all right as long as the master painter was alive.
But the absence of a will regarding the ownership of his paintings has resulted in the legal dispute between his children and his first wife.
The contention of Pandit's first wife and six of the seven children is that the painter before breathing his last in a Mumbai Hospital bequeathed his priceless works to Ms. Nalini Pandit.
This is contested by one of his sons Subhash Pandit who has dragged the issue to court.
Rajalakshmi, the second wife of Pandit, who died in 1991, had one son and two daughters. Through a court decree, the second wife and her children agreed not to stake any claim on the ancestral property and paintings of Pandit and were awarded the property owned by the painter in Mumbai.
According to Mr. Subhash Pandit, his father's wish was that a public trust should be formed with eminent artists and art lovers as its members to maintain and display his paintings.
But a private trust was formed by the family minus him, Mr. Subhash Pandit contended and in the deed it was shown that the paintings had been donated to Pandit's first wife.
According to Mr. Subhash Pandit, as per the directions of the court hearing the partition petition filed by him, the inventory of the paintings displayed in the private gallery was taken and as per the court document many important paintings of Pandit which were exhibited recently were found missing.
The missing works included the famous "Shakuntala Patra Lekhan," the painting on Krishna's sermon to Arjuna during the Mahabharata war, which had not been completed, and the Vishwamitra-Menaka painting.
Mr. Subhash Pandit said the missing paintings should be brought back to the gallery, which has remained closed for the past several months.
He said the State Government should acquire the paintings and exhibit them in the gallery constructed in memory of Pandit in Gulbarga.
Born in 1916, Pandit, a student of Shankar Rao Alandkar, took his diploma from the Madras School of Art and joined the J.J. School of Art.
He was also a recipient of the Gold Medal of the Royal Academy in London. Pandit, who was a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, was conferred the State Lalit Kala Academy Award in 1983, and in 1984 was given the Rajyotsava Award