Home » Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 –A Cure for all myriads of ailments in Manipur ? – (2)

Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 –A Cure for all myriads of ailments in Manipur ? – (2)

by Rinku Khumukcham
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(This article is the continuation from the previous write up by Dr. Khomdon Lisam Published on our yesterday issue)

Manipur State Constitution Act -1947 is enjoying full protection

The Chapter XI – General Clauses, Section  57 of the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 says that 

“ Where in any case circumstances arise which prevent the proper operation in law or in spirit of this Constitution Act, the Council (Manipur State Council /MSC under the Maharajah ) of Manipur  may at their discretion refer the matter for  decision to such authority outside the State as may be decided hereafter and the decision of that authority shall be binding.” Probably the British  stationed in Manipur could sense that the  Government of India may try to abrogate or dissolve the MSCA-1947  and the innocent simpleton Manipuris may not be able to protect this MSCA-1947. That is why they have inserted  this Section -57 .

Here one may ask “ who is the  authority outside the State” to whom the MSC can refer for revival of operation of the  Manipur Constitution Act-1947 ?”. Naturally the Hon’ble Supreme Court or the Government of India may be the authority outside the State, who can authorise Manipur to operate the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947. (MSCA) But the risk of failure is very high because the operation of  Manipur Constitution Act-1947 means independence of Manipur. I was asking this question  to some of my lawyer friends. One senior lawyer  commented that the Manipur Constitution Act-1947 is a protected constitution. It was drafted by F.F. Pearson, Political Agent and Chairman of the  Constitution Making Committee  and approved by  Muhammad Saleh Akbar Hydari., Governor of Assam and representative of the British Crown. Therefore, Her Majesty, the Queen has got an obligation to revive the operation of the  Manipur State Constitution Act-1947. Therefore , the Manipur State Council may refer the case to Her Majesty, the Queen. Therefore,  we should read the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 along with Article 374 of the Indian Constitution .

Consequently, the Manipur State Constitution Act  (MSCA)-1947 can not be dissolved or abrogated by the Indian Parliament or the Government of India. The Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 is a living document. If the Manipur State Government , which is a de-facto Government , the Civil Societies and  the people of Manipur stand united, then we can bring effective operation of Manipur State Constitution Act-1947. To me, we need not take a permission or approval from the Government of India. My lawyer friend  jokingly said “ my car has been stolen by a thief. He is driving the car for all these years. He is the de facto owner  of the car. I have all the legal documents of the car. I am the de jure owner of the car. The Indian Government and the State Government of Manipur are the de-facto owner of Manipur whereas the Maharaja of Manipur is the de jure owner of Manipur.”

Manipur had a State Legislative Assembly by 18 October, 1948.  

The Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 was put into operation by holding General Election, establishing the Manipur State Legislative Assembly and ensuring it’s proper functioning. 

Soon after regaining independence of Manipur from British rule on the midnight of 14 August, 1947, Maharajah Bodhchandra took steps to introduce democracy in Manipur. As provided in the Manipur State Constitution Act  (MSCA), 1947, elections of 53 representatives of the people to the Manipur State Legislative Assembly were held on 11 and 18 June, 1948 in the valley areas and on 26 and 27th July, elections were held in the hill areas. The first ever elected Manipur State Legislative Assembly was inaugurated by the Maharajah on 18 October, 1948. The Maharaja addressed the first session of the first Manipur State Assembly on 18 October, 1948. Thus the Manipur State Constitution Act  (MSCA), 1947, was put into operation by holding general election , establishing  Manipur State Legislative Assembly and ensuring proper functioning of the Assembly.  The first  Manipur State Legislative Assembly held four sessions on various issues of Manipur.

What the Article 374 of the Indian Constitution says:-.

The  Article 374 of the Constitution of India provides that “  Nothing in this  Constitution shall operate to invalidate the exercise of jurisdiction by His  Majesty in Council to dispose of appeals and petitions from, or in respect of, any judgment, decree or order of any Court within the territory of India in so far as the exercise of such jurisdiction is authorised by law, and any order of His Majesty in Council made on any such appeal or petition after the commencement of this institution shall for all purposes have effect as if it were an order or decree made by the Supreme  Court in the exercise of the jurisdiction conferred on such Court by this Constitution”.

The meaning is that if  His  Majesty in Council dispose the  appeals or petitions by a judgement or decree, that  will be treated as if  the order or decree is made by the Supreme  Court of India.

These two provisions (1) Section  57 of the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 and (2) Article 374 of the Constitution of India give us hope to the final legal settlement of the long standing political and legal conflict towards bringing back the sovereignty and independence  Manipur,

We may be required to provide adequate proof and evidences of  blunders/ illegal activities carried by the Government of India.

The following incidents will provide adequate evidences.:-

1.Manipur did not participate at the Constitutional Assembly of  India during 9 December , 1946 to 26 November 1949.

It is a fact that Mr. Girja Shankar Guha, Revenue Minister of Tripura represented Manipur in the  Constituent Assembly Meeting during 9 December, 1946 and 26 November 1949 ignoring the existence of the Manipur  State Legislative Assembly and the request of the Maharajah. This is a serious blunder which the Government of India has committed to Manipur. Can you purchase my  homestead land by negotiating and finalising the deal with my neighbour. This is utter nonsense committed by the then India’s Prime  Minister  and Home Minister.

On 26 July 1945,  Mr. Clement Attlee became the Prime  Minister of Britain. On 19 February, 1946,  Mr. Clement Attlee declared that the British had taken a  decision with His Majesty’s approval to send to India a special mission of three Cabinet Ministers comprising of Pathick Lawrence, the Secretary of State for India, Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade,and A.V, Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty to find out means for the transfer of power to the Indian hands.  The Cabinet Mission arrived in New Delhi on 24 March, 1946

The Constituent Assembly of India was created by the Cabinet Mission Plan to draft  the Constitution of India.  The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by the Provincial Assemblies. The total membership of the Constituent Assembly was 389 of which  292 were representatives of the then 12 provinces, 93 representatives of princely states and four were from the Chief Commissioners’ provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg and British Baluchistan.

On 7 June 1946, the Rulers of Princely States held a meeting in the Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay.  Nawab of Bhopal presided over this meeting. After three days’ deliberations, the Princes accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan regarding future constitutional reforms and made up their minds to negotiate with Mr. Wavell the then Viceroy.45 (The Times of India, Bombay, 11 and 12 June 1946; Jag Parvesh Chander, op.cit., p. 161. )   

In another meeting of the Standing Committee held on 2 December 1946, it was resolved to accept that the quota of States’ in the Constituent Assembly would be ninety three seats-one after ten lakh population. It was also decided that the Negotiating Committee would be free to discuss outstanding issues including the terms of States’ participation in the Constituent Assembly as well as their ultimate  position in the Union. (  B/85, VII (A)107, 1946, pp. 15-18.)

The Constituent Assembly was convened on 9 December , 1946, for the first time in New Delhi,

Earlier Mr. H.F. Knight, Governor of Assam visited Manipur in the month of December, 1946. The problems relating to the future of Manipur and the Constitution of India were discussed between the Governor of Assam and the Maharajah of Manipur.

In January,1947, Mr. C.G.Herbert, Secretary of the Chamber of Princes, had informed the Maharajah of Manipur that as a result of the Bill taken for the group in which the Manipur State was included, one Mr. Girja Shankar Guha., Revenue Minister of Tripura, had been declared elected to the Committee of Ministers.

Tripura’s king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya  had appointed Girija Shankar Guha,,  a Bengali  Minister to represent the state in the Constituent Assembly on  18 April , 1947. He died on May 17, 1947.

Maharajah Bodhchandra’s efforts to have a separate representative for Manipur in the Constituent Assembly:- 

In the last week of January, 1947, Maharajah Bodhchandra sent a letter to the Director of the Constitutional Affairs Secretariat. Chamber of Princes at New Delhi. He Stated that in view of the grave importance and the outstanding features of the Manipur State, he determined to appoint additional Advisers (at least 2) who were well conversant with the political and historical development of Manipur, the matters concerning the Hill tribes and the valley people, and the existing day- today political problems. The grounds on which Maharajah Bodhchandra expressed his desire to have a separate representative of the Manipur State in the Constituent Assembly were as follows.

1.It was not quite safe to have a representative who would mainly depend upon information’s supplied by the Advisers without having full, personal and local knowledge of the matters he was dealing with.

2.the representative for the Manipur State should for all practical purposes be a person, whether official, who was well conversant with, and experience in the Eastern Frontier problems which were of major importance to the coming Commonwealth of United India. And even this representative would have to be assisted by a special Advisory Committee consisting of the representatives  of diverse Hill tribes and the valley people.

3.With regard to the method of selection of representative, as there was to elected legislature in Manipur, Maharaja Bodhachandra expressed his desire to reserve the power of special reference to the Darbar and public bodies competent to advise him where necessary and this would be subject to change of personal and demanded by circumstances from time to time.

The Secretary to the Governor of Assam had strongly advised Maharaja Bodhchandra to ask Mr. Girja Shankar Guha to represent Manipur State and depute Maharaja Kumar Priyobarta as Advisor to Mr.  Girja Shankar Guha.  The matter was of importance and great urgency  because the Constituent Assembly of India had already begun. As the right of appointing a Member to the Constituent Assembly was  based on a population of 10 lakhs, the only way for the Manipur State to participate in the Assembly was by combination with Tripura, Sikkim and the Khasi Hills State which Mr. Girja Shankar Guha was representing.

The Secretary to the Governor of Assam wrote a threatening letter to the Maharajah of Manipur.

“Unless this opportunity is taken, it will presumably not be possible for Your Highness’s State to get any representative at all at the Constituent Assembly, a position which, in view of the probably great changes likely to occur in this country, might have regrettable consequences for the future of the Manipur State”.

Maharajah Bodhchandra  wrote  a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru in May, 1947:-

On 14th May 1947. the Maharajah Bodhchandra  of Manipur wrote  a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India regarding grant of a separate representative of Manipur to the Constituent Assembly of India. The letter said that instead of having a representative of Manipur, Tripura and the Khasi states as decided by the Chamber of Princes, there should be a separate representative for Manipur not on the basis of population but on the basis of “peculiar geographical and topographical” considerations”.

Jawaharlal . Nehru replied to this letter on  22 May 1947 as “  Dear Maharajah Saheb- I have just  received your letter of 14th May .I think your suggestion that Manipur should have a separate representative in the Constituent Assembly has some force. But unfortunately we have to function within the limits of certain rules laid down for us. These rules are based chiefly on population… the Negotiating Committee had done so. (Constituent Assembly of India, Constitution Section, File No. 84(3)/Ser/47, Ministry of Law, Government of India ;  Jawaharlal Nehru, Selected Works: Second Series, Volume Two. A Project of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, New Delhi, 2006, p.256. )

The Congress had no idea of changing the States’ boundaries. It was held that such change must have the consent of the States. It would not be forced on them. Nehru too added that the scheme under the plan was a voluntary one; there would be no compulsion at any stage. (B/85, VII (D), 200, pp. 35-36.)

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.

  1. 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.”

(To be continued)

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