Manipur State Constitution Act-1947
A Cure for all myriads of ailments in Manipur ?
- Part 4 -

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *

5. Forced Manipur State Merger Agreement -1949

Maharajah Bodhchandra of Manipur was invited to Shillong in September, 1949 by Mr. Prakasa, Governor of Assam for talks as per wishes of the Maharajah. The Maharajah, having full trust in the relationship with Mr. Prakasa, arrived in Shillong on 17 September 1949 accompanied with his ADC, the Private Secretary and a few household staff members along with some bodyguards.

On the first day (18 September, 1949) of the meeting between Maharajah Bodhchndra of Manipur and Mr. Prakasa, the Assam Governor straight away placed before the Maharajah an already prepared Merger Agreement' whereby Manipur would be 'merged' with India and asked him to sign on the same. The Maharajah had given in writing to the Governor of Assam " I am merely a Constitutional Head of a full responsible Government under the Manipur State Constitution Act -1947 approved by the Government of India (British India) and the voice of the Majority is my voice and it shall be constitutionally and legally binding on me not otherwise" Knowing the Maharajah's firm stand, Mr. Prakasa did not pursue the matter further for the day.

The Maharajah on his return to his Redlands residence at Shillong where he was staying found several Indian Army personnel surrounding the compound of his premises. The house arrest had begun as pre-planned. While under house-arrest, the Maharajah was not allowed to have any communication with the outside world, not to speak to Manipur. When Mr., Prakasa ventured to suggest to Sardar Patel, Union Home Minister that the Maharajah might not agree to sign the merger document. Sardar Patel, who was by then seriously ill. Sardar Patel demanded, "No Brigadier in Shillong?"

Thus Sardar Patel, India's 'Iron Man' had given green signal to use force should it became necessary in this land of Non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi. Mr. Prakasa was firm in his insistence that the Maharajah was asked to sign the 'agreement' before going back to Manipur. Thus, after resisting for three restless days and sleepless nights, the Maharajah could not see any escape. Ultimately, he signed the treacherous 'Merger Agreement' in a state of helplessness, while still under house-arrest, on 21 September , 1949.

Under the terms of the "agreement" Manipur comes under Indian rule from 15 October, 1949. Thus the Government of India overthrown the Maharajah, occupied Manipur and annexed to India violating all earlier assurances and declarations. Thus. the signing of Merger agreement on 21 September, 1949 was done by deceit and forceful tactics contrary to international laws. Even after signing the Instrument of Accession, Manipur did not lose her sovereignty as the Union Government was to look after Defence, External affairs and Communications. The people of Manipur is still observing this day as "National Repentance Day".

Manipur and India were both sovereign and independent countries before merger to India. Hence, the agreement between two sovereign and independent countries should have been signed according to international law i.e free from duress or coercion or force. Therefore the Government of India was violating the international law in forcing and putting the Maharajah Bodhchandra under house arrest from 17 September to 21 September, 1949 in order to extract his signature.

Further, Maharajah Bodhchandra had already become a Constitutional Ruler since adoption of the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 on 26 July 1947. He is not competent to sign the Manipur Merger Agreement without the approval of the Manipur State Legislative Assembly which was inaugurated and functioning with Chief Minister, Speaker and 51 other elected members since 18 October, 1948.

Further, the said Manipur Merger Agreement was not done under any Act or Law or Parliamentary Resolution. It was done hastily by the decision of Sri Prakasa, Governor of Assam , V.P. Menon, Advisor to the Government of India violating international laws, the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 and the Indian Independence Act-1947.

Further, the said Manipur Merger Agreement was not done under any prescribed format under any Act or Rule. It was done on a draft hastily prepared and amended many times by Nari Rustomji, Advisor to the Governor of Assam, V.P. Menon, Advisor to the Government of India. It should be rendered invalid.

The Manipur Merger Agreement of 1949 does not have any legality and constitutional validity in the views of the educated youths of Manipur.

There was nobody among the Indian Leaders who would listen to his legal assertion that sovereignty of the Manipur was vested in the people and that it was in the fitness of things to hear the people's voice and learn their sentiment so that the line of action might not in any case be unconstitutional. He expressed his desire to return to Manipur the next day (19 September) itself to expedite the matters.

On 19 September he could not meet any representative of the Government of India but merely exchanged correspondence with the Governor of Assam expressing his sense of betrayal and reiterating his desire to go back to Manipur. The Maharajah was a totally broken man who spent his time weeping alone in the 'Redland' where he was kept under house arrest by what Nari Rustomji called, "protective guard to ensure that all should be well." The Redlands was his private lands. Actually nobody has got the right to enter the Redlands without permission of the Maharajah. Posting and occupation of Redlands by the so called Protective Guards sent by the Governor of Assam amount to trespassing and punishable under the law. In that situation, according to Rustomji "the Maharajah was beset himself with emotion, now bursting into tears, now wrapped in sullen melancholy.".

According to Article VIII of the Manipur Merger Agreement, "The Government of India shall also undertake to make suitable provisions for the employment of Manipuris in the various branches of Public Services, and in every way encourage Manipuris to join them" But not a single .Meitei and Meitei Pangan is given employment under this agreement. No reservation quota is created to recruit the Meitei and Meitei Pangan in all India Services like IAS, IPS, IFS etc. during 1950-2018. The backlog must be around 300-500 in every category of employment. The Government of India clearly violated this agreement.

The Manipur Merger Agreement of 1949 does not have any legality and constitutional validity in the views of the people of Manipur.

6. Manipur State Assembly rejected the Merger Agreement

The 4th sitting of the 3rd session of the Manipur State Assembly in its session held at the Johnston School on 28th September, 1949 at 2.30.p.m rejected the "Merger Agreement signed on 21st September 1949" and declared the Merger Agreement invalid as the powers and authorities of Maharajah had been vested with the Manipur State Assembly . The excerpt of the Assembly proceedings was published in the Manipur State Gazette, part IV, dated 14 October 1949. Mr. T.C. Tiankham Speaker , Mr. M. K, Priyobarta Singh, Chief Minister and 6 other Ministers and 43 Hon'ble Members were present and adopted the resolution .

The copies of the declaration signed by P.B. Singh, Chief Minister, T.C. Tiankham, Speaker, Arambam Ibungotomcha Singh, Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs. was sent to the Government of India. But there is no reply from the Government of India on this issue during the last 68 years. It is said that the Kuki Chiefs were greatly disheartened to hear the news and they sent 250 armed warriors to protect the Maharajah from any possible attack on the Maharajah. Seeing the honest and dedicated loyalty of the Kukis, the Maharajah gave them lands near the Manipur Palace for their permanent settlement. This place is now called "Haokip Veng".

7. The Merger Agreement was neither approved by his Council of Ministers nor ratified by the Manipur State Legislative Assembly.

The weakness of the Agreement lies also in the fact that the people of Manipur did not give consent in any form to the Merger Agreement as no referendum was held on that issue. Further, the Merger Agreement was neither approved by his Council of Ministers nor ratified by the Manipur State Legislative Assembly. Therefore, the Merger Agreement was illegal.

8. The dissolution of Manipur State Legislative Assembly was in violation of Independence Act, 1947 enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty on 18th July 1947

Once Manipur became part of the India, the Government of India dissolved the State's Constituent Assembly on 15 October, 1949 without repealing the Manipur Constitution Act-1947. Here I may be allowed to ask a simple question: Can the present Manipur Legislative Assembly be dissolved by a simple administrative order of the Government of India or by an order of the President of India?

The Indian Independence Act, 1947, Section 9(5) states that

" No order shall be made under this section, by the Governor of any Province, after the appointed day, or, by the Governor-General, after the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and forty-eight ( 31 March, 1948) , or such earlier date as may be determined, in the case of either Dominion,. by "any law of the Legislature of that Dominion.".

However, violating the provisions of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, para 9(5) , Shri C. Rajagopalcharry, Governor General of India issued an order on 15 October 1949 declaring that 'the Ministers' in Manipur State shall cease to function and the Legislature' of the State shall stand 'dissolved' citing Sections 3 and 4 of the Extra Provincial Jurisdiction Act, 1947 (Act XLVII of 1947) . This is in violation of Independence Act, 1947 and again illegal. Under which provision of the Indian Constitution, Shri C. Rajagopalcharry, Governor General of India issued this order on 15 October 1949?

To be continued....

* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for
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 10, 2018.

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