TODAY -

Government of India's historical blunders and what remedies will rectify the blunders
- Part 1 -

Dr. Khomdon Singh Lisam *

INSTRUMENT OF ACCESSION was duly executed on 11-8-47
"Instrument Of Accession" was duly executed on 11-8-47



We can start our discussion from the statement of G.K. Pillai, former Union Home Secretary, which was published on 27 September, 2011 in the Telegraph newspaper. According to him, the repeal of the draconian act AFSPA -1958 was one of the first steps towards resolving the vexed conflict of Manipur's valley and hills. He said that " the ancient kingdom of Manipur had a constitution even before India wrote her own and had a proud history and was overnight turned into a C-category state in 1948. He further added " we have to build trust by dealing with the core issues . An apology , say by the Prime Minister or the Home Minister, for the past mistakes could be a start. "

We feel that an apology is not sufficient. We want the Government of India to make amendment of the article 371 C of the Indian Constitution to incorporate the vital interest of Manipur.

History has shown clearly that the Government of India had committed some serious blunders to Manipur which are the beyond the scope of International law during 1947-1950 which led to illegal annexation of Manipur to India These blunders generate a sense of betrayal in the psyche of youths of Manipur today . G.K. Pillai said " Naga political problem in the hills and the Meitei militancy were intricately enmeshed . It was after Nagaland was formed that the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the oldest Meitei insurgent group in Manipur was formed in 1964.". Till today, the past betrayal by the Government of India remains as the source of all perpetual conflicts in Manipur . If the Government of India genuinely wants a long lasting solution bringing peace, prosperity and development to Manipur , they should come out with some concrete solutions in the form of constitutional amendments .

1. Did Maharaja Bodhachandra had the authority to sign the Instrument of Accession without consultation with the State Council ?

According to the Government of India Act, 1935, a princely Indian State may accede to the Dominion of India by an Instrument of Accession executed by the Ruler thereof. Maharaja Bodhchandra signed the Instrument of Accession on 11 August, 1947 with the Dominion of India. However, on this date , the Dominion of India was yet to be born. The dominion of India came into existence only on 15 August, 1947 and Maharaja Bodhchandra , unlike other kings of princely states was not an omnipotent monarch on 11 August, 1947. He became a constitutional ruler since 1 July, 1947 when he devolved his powers to the newly established State Council.

Maharaja Bodhchandra himself said in his inaugural address of the first Manipur State Assembly held on 18 September, 1948 " I now bring to the notice of the people that I had transferred my powers and responsibilities other than the constitutional ruler of the State Council since 1st July, 1947 before the lapse of British paramountcy and since then I have already remained as a Constitutional Ruler". My argument is if that is the case, Maharaja Bodhchandra had no authority to sign on his own the Instrument of Accession on 11 August, 1947 without the approval of the State Council or the Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharajah on 11 August, 1947 needs to be ratified by the State Council or State Assembly on a later date . Unfortunately , this had never taken place . Therefore , the Instrument of Accession on 11 August, 1947 should be declared null and void.

2. Legal validity of the Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharajah of Manipur on 11 August , 1947

According to the sub-section (1) of section 6 of the Government of India Act-1935 (2nd August, 1935). " an Indian State shall be deemed to have acceded to the Dominion if the Governor General has signified his acceptance of an Instrument of Accession executed by the Ruler thereof . The original copies of the Instrument of Accession and the Standstill Agreement signed by Maharaja Bodhchandra are currently with the Union Home Ministry under file no. F/375/48-Public and marked " Secret". In case of Jammu and Kashmir, the Instrument of Accession was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh on 26 October 1947 , accepted by Lord Mountbatten of Burma, Governor-General of India on 27 October 1947. The Humanist Party, Manipur had requested the Union Home Ministry, Government of India to provide a photocopy of the Instrument of Accession but till date they remain silent about it .

People are speculating that probably, Lord Mountbatten , the Governor General might not appended his signature on the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Bodhchandra due to technical reasons or otherwise.. The Section no 6 b (4) of the Government of Indian Act -1935 mentioned " Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring His Majesty (Governor General) to accept any instrument of Accession or supplementary Instrument unless he considers it proper so to do or as empowering His Majesty to accept any such instrument if it appears to him that the terms thereof are inconsistent with the scheme of Federation embodied in the Act.". Could the historical experts and legal experts in India may kindly enlighten in this area and help in getting a copy of the signed document ?

3. The Instrument of Accession signed by Maharajah Bodhchandra of Manipur on 11 August was never ratified by the Manipur Constituent Assembly and therefore not valid.

In case of Jammu and Kashmir , the Instrument of Accession was ratified on February 15, 1954 . The assembly members of Jammu and Kashmir who were present cast a unanimous vote ratifying the state's accession to India. The Indian Constitution was drafted which came into force on January 26, 1950. All the provisions mentioned in the Instrument of Accession of Jammu an Kashmir were incorporated in the Indian Constitution under article 370 whereas in case of Manipur (Article 371C) , nothing is mentioned about Instrument of Accession or Merger Agreement. This shows gross discrimination against and utter disregard to Manipur . Since the Instrument of Accession was never ratified by the Manipur Constituent Assembly, it should be declared as "null and void "

4. According to the Government of India Act-1935 (6-(9) , as soon as may be after any Instrument of Accession or Supplementary Instrument has been accepted by His Majesty under this section , 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. Could the Government of India or the State Government or historians or members of the Judiciary or legal profession may kindly enlighten whether the accepted copies the Instrument of Accession of Manipur by the Governor General were laid before the Parliament and all courts of India ?

6. 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 signing of the Manipur Merger Agreement was therefore between a sovereign state called Manipur and the Government of India. It should therefore free from coercion or force or undue pressure.

In September, 1949, the Maharaja Budhachandra was summoned to Shillong, capital of Assam . Maharaja Bodhchandra, together with his ADC Gourahari , Andamohan and escort departed from Imphal on 15th September, 1949 and reached Redlands, his personal residence in Shillong, on 17th September, 1949. He immediately sent his ADC to the Governor's residence to inform Mr. Prakasa, Governor of Assam of his arrival, only to be told that the latter was away from Shillong. The meeting with Governor Mr. Prakasa on the first day, 18 September, 1949 ended abruptly, as the Maharaja got emotionally upset, when Nari Rustomji, Advisor to the Governor of Assam unceremoniously and abruptly produced the Manipur Merger Agreement for signature.

On his return from the meeting, Redlands was found surrounded by a strong contingent of the Indian army, who pitched their tents within the grounds. Plain clothes police also appeared and refused to allow anyone in or out. Attempts by the Maharajah's staff to send out telegrams were refused, and since there was no telephone in the building the Maharajah's party found themselves virtual prisoners. Requests to withdraw the security police were ignored.

On 18 September in the evening , he wrote to Mr. Prakasa , the Governor " Now that the sovereignty of the State has been vested in the people , it would be in the fitness of things to hear the people's voice and learn their sentiments so that the time of action may not in any case be unconstitutional". The Maharaja also wrote " I am merely a Constitutional Head of a full responsible Government under the Constitution Act 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 "



To be continued....


* Dr. Khomdon Singh Lisam wrote this article to e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at khomdonlisam2005(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk
This article was posted on October 23, 2012.



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