TODAY -

Manipur State Constitution Act-1947
A Cure for all myriads of ailments in Manipur ?
- Part 3 -

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *



On 15 June 1947, when All India Congress Committee (AICC) passed a resolution "Constitutionally and legally the Indian Princely States will be independent sovereign States on the termination of Paramountcy". (Transfer of Power, Vol. XI, No. 225. )

The Governor of Assam had a discussion with the Manipur State Darbar on 01 July 1947 and an agreement on certain points was arrived at between the Governor and the Manipur State Darbar. The first point was related to the joining of the Constituent Assembly by Manipur and acceptance of Mr. Girja Shankar Guha as representative of Manipur in the Constituent Assembly. Another important point was the necessity of the assistance by the Union government both for the external and internal security of the State and retention of the Assam rifles.

On 02 July 1947 another agreement between the Governor and the Maharajah was signed. The agreement contained points relating the administrative arrangement after the lapse of British paramountcy on 15 August 1947. But the decision of the Manipur State Darbar. have no validity after abolition of the Darbar and constitution of the Manipur State Council on 26 July, 1947.

Lord Mountbatten , the Viceroy addressed the special session of the Chamber of Princes on 25 July 1947 ( Gwyer & Appadorai, op.cit., p. 772; Mansergh & Moon, op.cit., Vol. XII, p. 234.) . The Viceroy advised the Rulers "to accede to the appropriate Dominion, with regard to three subjects of Defence, External Affairs and Communications as they have nothing to lose as the States had never dealt with them. Their accession would involve no financial liability and in other matters there would be no encroachment on their sovereignty". Finally, he suggested that they should join either union before 15 August 1947 ( Johnson, op.cit., pp. 140-141. Johnson says, "The Viceroy used every weapon in his armoury of persuasion"; also see Mosley, op.cit., p. 172.)

A meeting of The Negotiating Committee of the Princely States was held in Bikaner on 31 July 1947 and finally prepared the draft of the 'Instrument of Accession' and the 'Standstill Agreement'.( The Tribune, Lahore, 1 August 1947). About 60 Princes attended the meeting. But there is no such provision in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and India (Provisional Constitution) Order 1947 to merge and annex the acceding States.

Ultimately, Maharajah Bodhachandra had agreed to depute his brother Maharaj Kumar Priyobarta as Adviser to Mr. Guha so long as he was the representative of the Manipur State in the Constituent Assembly. But Maharajah Bodhchandra has strongly impressed on his brother to observe two important points in the discharge of his works as adviser to Mr. Guha. Firstly, he was to represent only such cases as were agreed upon between himself and the Maharajah. Secondly, each of the States of Tripura, Sikkim, Manipur and the Khasi Hills would have a change of representing in the Constituent Assembly by turn for specified periods.

The constitution of free India was framed by and adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into effect on 26 January 1950, on which the first Republic Day of India was celebrated. There is no such provision in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and India (Provisional Constitution) Order 1947 to merge and annex the acceding States who are acceding to the Dominion of India (now Union of India) by the Standstill Agreement. The acceding States are sovereign States. The acceding State is a part or unit of the Union not a part or territory of India.

Considering all these facts, it is quite clear that no representative from Manipur participated at the Constituent Assembly of India during 9 December, 1946, to 26 November 1949. Till date, the people of Manipur has not formally accepted the Constitution of India by a referandum. Representing Manipur by GS Guha of Tripura to the Constituent Assembly of India with a view to integrate into India is like finalising a land deal with a neghbour ignoring the actual owner of the land. This is illegal and a serious blunder committed by the first Prime Minister and Home Minister of India.

2. The signing of the Instrument of Accession on 11 August, 1947 was illegal

Maharajah Bodhchandra of Manipur signed the Instrument of Accession on 11 August, 1947 and was accepted by Lord Moutbatten of Burma on 16 August,1947 The execution of the Instrument of Accession was published in the Manipur State Gazette on 27 August 1947. vide Home Department, Government of India file no A-1/1/1947. Signing of Instrument of Accession is like signing of a Treaty between two sovereign countries and the procedure should follow the International laws.

It is a fact that signing of the Instrument of Accession was executed before the Dominion of India came into existence. On 11th August, 1947 India had not yet become independent and the Dominion of India did not come into existence. Thus the two documents of the Standstill Agreement and the Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharajah should not be taken as valid since these were signed before creation of dominion of India.

The Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Bodhchandra of Manipur on 11 August was never approved by the Manipur State Council in 1947 or ratified by the Manipur State Legislative Assembly in 1948 and therefore not valid since he had already become the constitutional ruler since 26 July 1947. In case of Jammu and Kashmir , the Instrument of Accession was ratified on 15 February, 1954.

According to the Government of India Act-1935 (6-9), immediately the Instrument of Accession has been accepted by Governor General, copies of the Instrument and His Majesty's acceptance thereof shall be laid before the Parliament and all courts shall take judicial notice of every such instrument and acceptance. But there are no records of the accepted copies of the Instrument of Accession of Manipur having laid down before the Parliament and all courts of India.

The signing of the Instrument of Accession by Maharaja Bodhchandra and acceptance by the Governor General were illegal and invalid in the eyes of international law.

While asking the States to accede on three subjects, the Government of India assured the rulers that "in other matters the Government of India would scrupulously respect their autonomous existence." Lord Mountbatten underlined these assurances in his speech to the Chamber of Princes on 25 July 1947 that (except for defence, external affairs and communications) " in no other matters has the Central Government any authority to encroach on the internal autonomy or the sovereignty of the States."

3. The signing of the Standstill Agreement on 11 August, 1947 was illegal

Maharajah Bodhchandra of Manipur signed the Standstill Agreement on 11 August, 1947. These were accepted by Lord Mountbatten of Burma on 16 August,1947. But his signing of the Standstill Agreement without the approval of the Manipur State Council in 1947 and without ratification by the Manipur State Legislative Assembly under pressure from the Government of India was an illegal act since he had already become the constitutional ruler since 26 July 1947.

There is no such provision in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and India (Provisional Constitution) Order 1947 to merge and annex the acceding States who are acceding to the Dominion of India (now Union of India) by the Standstill Agreement. The acceding States are sovereign States. The acceding State is a part or unit of the Union not a part or territory of India. The Union is a political body.

The signing of the Standstill Agreement by Maharaja Bodhchandra and acceptance by the Governor General were illegal and invalid in the eyes of international law.

4. Illegal Appointment of an outsider as Dewan of Manipur

Mr. Akbar Hydari, the Governor of Assam came in person to Manipur along with Nari Rustomji, Advisor on 23 June, 1948 and asked the Maharaja of Manipur to appoint a Dewan in place of Dominion Agent. The post of Dewan was not included in the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947, which is already in operation since 26 July, 1947. Mr. Akbar Hyder Ali , the Governor of Assam died of heart attack in Manipur while going for a trip for shooting ducks to Waikhong near the Waikhong Salt Spring. Mr. Akbar Hydari was succeeded by Mr., Prakasa from Bihar. Mr. Prakasa came to Manipur on 21-24 March, 1949 on the pretext of assessing the situation between Manipur and Burma. He simply said that the appointment of the Dewan would strengthen the relation between Manipur and India.

On 14 April 1949 Rustomji, Advisor to the Governor of Assam came to Imphal with a new Dewan, Major-General Rawal Amar Singh. Rustomji brought with him a letter setting out the powers which the Government of India had given to the Dewan over the State of Manipur. Rustomji pressurised Maharaja Bodhchandra to issue the appointment of Rawal Singh and the conditions of his appointment within two days.

No discussion was permitted and Bodhchandra weakly caved in to the pressure. Nobody from Manipur had got the guts to question the legal validity of appointing a new Dewan which was not included in the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 or in the history of Manipur. Neither the Council of Ministers nor the Legislators questioned the sweeping powers given to the Dewan over the State. The way towards annexation of Manipur had already begun by a deceitful combination of deviousness and bullying on Mr.Prakasa's ( then Governor of Assam ) part.

Major General Rewal Amar Singh was appointed as the Dewan of Manipur on 14th April, 1949 Mr. Prakasa who succeeded Akbar Hydari declared that there was no question of merging Manipur into India .According to the letter addressed to the Maharaja on 14th April, the Dewan would held the direct charge of the portfolio of Law and Order, administration of Hill Tracts, State Forces and Relation with the Government of India. The administration of the Manipur State shall be carried out under the general superintendence , guidance and control of the Dewan . The Dewan would be assisted by Major Khating, Manipur. Mr. Prakasa also informed the Maharajah that the Government of India did not recognize the Manipur State Council and also the Manipur State Legislative Assembly.

This is illegal action on the part of Government of India.

To be continued....


* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is MBBS, MHA(AIIMS), M.A (Leeds/UK), HSMC( IHF/London), CCAE( Chula/Bangkok) PDCE (UCLA/USA) and Former Medical Superintendent , JNIMS, Ex-Consultant, NACO, Ex-Project Director (MACS)
The writer can be reached at khomdon(DOT)lisam(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was posted on July 05, 2018.


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