India/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

There are various Indian Acts that govern cultural heritage as have been categorised below.

Central Acts:

Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878

Ancient Monuments Preservation Act 1904

Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959

Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972

Environment Protection Act, 1986

State Acts:

Monuments and Antiquities Act, 1961

Town and Country Planning Acts

City heritage

Statutory protection is available only to monuments protected under the Monuments and Antiquities Act, 1961 in the states. Most Indian cities trace their heritage back to many centuries as capitals of princely states and as centres of culture and commerce. Indian cities have significant heritage that is not governed by any heritage laws and as a consequence is being lost to rapid urbanisation. Some states list a site or building, which are under both public and private ownership, as a heritage structure. Although this measure places restrictions on the sites, it has proven to be inadequate. Cities and heritage within them are governed by Municipal laws which are a state subject. Many states do not have adequate legislation to conserve city heritage and amendments to heritage protection rules are pending in many states.

Below is a list of states and the status of pending heritage legislation:




Heritage Regulation

Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh Urban Areas

(Development) Act, 1975

Local Urban



Amendment in 2000 by Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for Hyderabad


Bihar Town Planning &

Improvement Trust Act, 1951

Local Urban

Areas, Regional Level

Bill under consideration. No efforts for heritage legislation


Delhi Development

Act, 1957

Local Urban Areas


Delhi building bylaws modified in Feb. 2004


Goa, Daman & Diu Town and Country Planning Act, 1976


Local Urban

Areas, Regional Level


Comprehensive legislation introduced but heritage amendments pending


Gujarat Town Planning & Urban

Development Act, 1976

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Protection

Local -Urban




Comprehensive Act and Heritage legislation amendment integrated in Sep. 2007




Himachal Pradesh Town &

Country Planning Act, 1977


Local Urban Areas


Comprehensive TCP legislation but no effort on heritage legislation

Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)

J & K Town Planning Act, 1963

J & K Development Act, 1970

Local Urban Areas


No comprehensive planning


Karnataka Town & Country Planning Act, 1964 (Amendment,

Bangalore Development

Authority Act, 1976;

Bangalore Metropolitan

Regional Development Authority Act, 1985;

Karnataka Urban Development Authority Act, 198)

Metropolitan Areas,

Metropolitan region,

Urban centres


Amendments made in the Town & Country Planning Act to redefine ‘Heritage Building’ and ‘Heritage Precinct’ in 2007.


Travancore Town & Country Planning Act,

1945 as amended in 1947 and 1975.

Travancore Town Planning

Regulations, 1932 as amended in 1960

Madras Town Planning Act, 1920 as amended in 1975

Local Urban Areas


No comprehensive Town Planning Act for the State - no amendments for heritage




Madhya Pradesh Nagar

Tatha Gram Nivesh Adhiniyam,



Local Urban




Regional Level

Comprehensive town & country planning legislation. Heritage amendment pending


Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 as modified up to 1988.

Bombay Metropolitan Region Development Authority Act (BMRDA), 1975

Maharashtra Housing and Area development Act (MHADA), 1976

Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Preservation of Trees Act, 1975

Local Urban Areas,

Metropolitan Areas




Regional Level

Amendment in 1995


Orissa Town Planning and Improvement Trust Act, 1956, as amended in 1976

Orissa Development Authority Act, 1982

Local Urban



Not comprehensive –heritage legislation pending


The Pondicherry Town &

Country Planning Act, 1969

Extended to


Amendments based on Goa Act underway. Heritage amendments not incorporated


Punjab Town Improvement

Act, 1922

Punjab Scheduled Roads and Controlled Areas (Restriction of unregulated development) Act, 1963

Local Urban Areas

Amendment made in April 2003


Capital of Punjab

(Development & Regulation)

Act, 1952

Punjab New Capital

(Periphery) Control Act, 1952

Chandigarh Trees Preservation

Order, 1952

Extended to

whole of Union Territory



World Heritage Site Nomination for Urban Heritage in process

Could adopt the amended Punjab Act.


Rajasthan Urban Improvement

Act, 1959 as amended in


Rajasthan Monuments , Archaeological Sites and

Antiquities Act, 1961

Local Urban





Town & Country Planning Act still pending Central govt. approval


Draft amendment to the Act in process. December, 2008

Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh Urban

Planning and Development

Act, 1973

Local Urban areas

Draft under consideration - no amendments for heritage

Intangible heritage 

Traditional knowledge

With the growing importance of traditional knowledge, various legislative mechanisms have been put in place for its protection and regulation:

Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act 2001[1], which recognises the rights of farmers over their traditional knowledge and the need for its protection.

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 was passed with the objectives to conserve, encourage sustainable use and equitable sharing of biological resources. The main provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules, 2004 are:

1. Prohibition on transfer of Indian genetic material outside the country, without specific

approval of the Indian Government.

2. Prohibition on anyone claiming an Intellectual Property Right (IPR), such as a patent,

over biodiversity or related knowledge, without the permission of the Indian Government.

3. Regulation of collection and use of biodiversity by Indian nationals, while exempting

local communities from such restrictions.

4. Measures for sharing the benefits from the use of biodiversity, including the transfer of

technology, monetary returns, joint Research & Development, joint IPR ownership, etc.

5. Measures to conserve and sustainably use biological resources, including habitat and

species protection, environmental impact assessments of projects, integration of

biodiversity into the plans, programmes, and policies of various departments/sectors.

6. Provisions for local communities to have a say in the use of their resources and

knowledge, and to charge fees for any access.

7. Protection of indigenous or traditional knowledge, through appropriate laws or other

measures such as the registration of such knowledge.

8. Regulation of the use of genetically modified organisms.

9. Setting up of National, State, and Local Biodiversity Funds, to support conservation and


10. Setting up of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) at local, village and urban

levels, State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) at the state level, and a National Biodiversity

Authority (NBA).[2]

The Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005 was introduced to bring India’s patent law regime into compliance with the WTO TRIPs Agreement. This Act contains provisions relating to patent and traditional knowledge under Section3 (p) and Section 25(1)(k).

The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1940 regulates traditional Indian medicine systems.

Under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, products are defined by a geographical area where it is found traditionally. This protects valuable geographical indications which mostly include traditional knowledge in India. The law permits any organisation, authority, association of persons or producers, representing the interests of the producers established by the law, to register a geographical indication.[3]


[2]Kalpavriksh and Grain, 2009. Six Years of the Biological Diversity Act in India, Delhi/Pune

[3] See for the present list of products with GI Registration.

Chapter published: 22-04-2014