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From Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar to Sir H. Craik
June 1, 1942

Legal Document No 76

(Extract)

The Indian Princes have no desire to raise any controversial issues in Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar the duration of the war and wish to concentrate all thought and energy on ensuring a speedy and decisive victory. Accordingly, as you are aware, it has been my policy as Chancellor to postpone all avoidable matters which have no direct bearing on war effort and which may be inconvenient to meet at this juncture. Nevertheless, certain recent happenings, arising out of the Cripps Mission, have caused, and are bound to accentuate, grave anxiety to the Princes and their loyal subjects, and have occasioned intense feeling of profound disappointment in the States. These developments, I must state in all frankness, have been a particular shock to the Indian Princes who feel special personal attachment to His Majesty the King Emperor, and have full faith in Britain's respect for Treaties and in the bonafides of His Majesty's Government and High Excellency the Crown Representative. I feel confident that it could not have been the intention of His Majesty's Government to create an impression which unfortunately has been created and is being exploited by those who are opposed to war effort and who wish to put a damper even on the unconditional and spontaneous war effort of the States. Accordingly, I deem it my duty to State briefly but in all frankness the more important of these points, so that you may submit them to His Excellency the Crown Representative with the request that he may urge upon His Majesty s Government the necessity of reassuring tile States, unequivocally and without delay, on these points and thereby dispel the misgivings which are apt to do great harm.

  • the Indian Princes regard their Treaties and Engagements and the protection guaranteed thereunder as the sheet-anchor of their relationship with the British Crown;
  • the scrupulous respect for these Treaties and Engagements has been solemnly assured to the States by Her Majesty the late Queen Empress Victoria, by the Emperors who succeeded her and by successive Viceroys on behalf of His Majesty's Government;
  • His Excellency the present Viceroy also has, in his public addresses as also in private conversations, repeatedly assured us of the scrupulous respect for the Treaties and Engagements which bind the Indian Princes and their loyal subjects to their beloved King Emperor. Moreover, the Indian Princes have been inspired by the fact that His Majesty's Government has gone to war for the High principle of Civilisation which specifically include respect for Treaties and Engagements;
  • it was, therefore, that the Indian Princes noted with particular satisfaction that the Declaration of August 1940 as elucidated authoritatively in Parliament by the Secretary of State for India was intended specifically to ensure the Crown's Treaty obligations to States. As. such, it has been a great disappointment to the Indian Princes that the new draft Declaration brought by Sir Stafford Cripps which in the words of the Prone Minister, sought to clothe with precision the Declaration of August, l940, omits altogether the reference to Crown's Treaty obligations to States which had been one of the basic planks of all previous Declarations relating to the constitutional advance of India. This inexplicable and unexpected omission, of the Crown's obligations to States, in the Draft Declaration has not unnaturally caused great misgivings in the minds of the Princes and their loyal subjects. In fact it has openly been asked whether the Princes were being ignored as they had no nuisance value; while the Princes themselves feel that their spontaneous and unconditional war effort deserved better than the deletion in the Draft Declaration of the express guarantee of the Crown's obligations to them assured in the Declaration of August 1940;
  • moreover, it has given occasion to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and others to declare publicly with great flutter that these Treaties must be scrapped, and in fact he (Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru) has recently gone to the extent of declaring that those who talk of Treaties with Indian States are "Lunatics, knaves or fools". He appears to have forgotten the lesson of which was reminded in a published statement by my Secretary that even the "All Parties Report, prescribed over by the late Pandit Moti Lal Nehru (father of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru) and signed among others by the Rt. Hon'ble Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru specifically recognised that the States' Treaties must be respected in any future constitution of India:
  • it is significant that the Draft Declaration makes special mention of the protection of "racial and religious minorities and in referring to this point Sir Stafford in his recent statement in the House of Commons stated that: " In view of our pledges, we could not leave the minorities to reply upon this alone. We, therefore, inserted an express clause as to the treaty governing minority protection which will be found in paragraph c (ii) of the Draft Declaration." The States are surely entitled to claim even more minorities that the Solemn undertakings with them must be scrupulously respected, particularly as they hove the honour of alliances and friendship with the British Crown and have consecrated it by their unconditional assistances and cooperation in all crises which faced the Empire:
  • in this connection, attention may be invited to the provision at the end of clause (c) of the draft Declaration: "Whether or not an Indian State elects to adhere to the constitution it will be necessary to negotiate a revision of its Treaty arrangements so far as this may be required in the new situation." This statement has created the impression that it is proposed to have a compulsory revision of Treaty arrangements whether or not the States concerned consent to such revision. In later elucidation we were told that this provision was intended to apply to economic matters of common concern to British India and the States, but this has not been clearly stated in the Declaration itself. Moreover, even if it be so, it is obvious that the objective in view could be secured by negotiating supplemental Treaties with regard to these economic matters arising out of the new Constitution without affecting or revising the whole of the original Treaties or Engagements. Besides it should be made clear that the execution of these supplement treaties would obviously be subject to free consent of the States concerned;
  • apart from consideration of Treaty obligations and faith in plighted word which bind the British Crown and the Princes in relationship which is inviolate, and inviolable, the Princes are imbued with genuine and deep loyalty to the person of His Majesty the king Emperor. As such, I personally and many others who share my views decline to believe that the Crown wishes to give up its obligations to States or has no further use of them or finds their alliances. their loyal cooperation, services and assistance of no value, or that the Crown is advised that it will not be in a position effectively to discharge its obligations towards States;
  • nevertheless some of these recent utterances have caused grave concern and personal shock to many of us, and it is fell that if matters are left as they are in the present position, they are bound; to have serious repercussions on the younger and future generations of Princes, a consequence which must be deplored in the interests of the British Commonwealth of Nations as much as in the interest of India and the States. Moreover, the situation is already being exploited by some of the British Indian Political Parties who are hostile to the British connection; in view of the aforesaid consideration, I would urge with all the emphasis at my command that the earliest opportunity may be utilised to ensure the States through an authoritative statement on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that the British Government stands true to, and firmly by, its Treaty obligations to the States and will continue to protect them according to these solemn obligations.
Let me also refer briefly to a few other factors which have contributed to the aforesaid anxiety of the Princes, I am citing them in the confident hope that the view point of the Princes will be kept in view if and when similar circumstances recur again;
  • certain important matters relating to Defence were discussed in connection with the Cripps Mission, and representatives of the Congress and Muslim League were brought in consultation with His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief to evolve proposals connected with the appointment of an Indian Defence Member. You will appreciate, that both under their Treaties, and otherwise the States are vitally concerned in this matter, and yet in these negotiations the States have entirely been ignored;
  • various important references, made in connection with the Cripps Mission both in India and in the House of Commons, have been confined to British India and Indian leaders as if the Indian States did not matter. So much so, that it was stated that representatives of certain parties, and communities, which were specifically mentioned, had expressed their readiness to stand by Great Britain in tile defence of their country. No reference to the spontaneous and unconditional support off the Indian Princes and their loyal subjects was made in this authoritative statement by the Lord Privy Seal;
  • throughout the R.T.C. and previous constitutional discussions, the Rulers and their Ministers were treated by His Majesty's Government and their representatives as they should be treated as the sole accredited representatives of the States. This time however, presumably through the efforts of Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru and others, Sir Stafford Cripps received a British Indian as representative of the so-called State Subjects Conference, which is an adjunct of the Congress and generally speaking is a self-assumed tribune of the very small minority of disgruntled elements in the Indian States. We do not know whether this step was taken with the concurrence of His Majesty's Government, but at any rate it has placed the Princes in a very- awkward position vis--vis their loyal subjects. In this connection, it may be pointed out that even the All Parties Report of 1928 to which reference has been made in sub-pare (e) of Para I above recognised "that the Rulers of the Indian States alone represent their governments,"
  • it seems authoritatively indicated that once a State adheres to the proposed Indian Union it will have to remain there even if the Union should declare itself a Republic, or decides to break away from the British Empire, or decrees that monarchical rule in tile States should be replaced by Republics
  • we have been told that the proposed constitution making body would be free to discuss internal affairs of the States, though on previous occasions it was clearly understood that constitutional discussions wilt be limited to matters of common concern to British India and the States which appertain to the Centre. In this connection, let me invite intention to the resolution passed unanimously at the last session of the chamber of Princes and the relevant extracts from my speech in moving the aforesaid Resolution which would show that the Indian Princes arc sympathetic to, and are prepared to make every reasonable contribution for the constitutional advance of India. They desire. however, that they should be kept free from purely British Indian controversies and that British India should not interfere with the internal affairs of the States;
  • during the Cripps Negotiations reference has been made to only a representative of India on the Imperial War Cabinet, and the names of certain British Indian leaders were openly canvassed for it. In this connection, it may be pointed out that in the Imperial War Cabinet and Conference of 1917 as also at the Peace Conference of 1919, both Indian States and British India were separately represented.
IV. It is appreciated that in the interests of India and the Empire as a whole, a single Union would undoubtedly be the best solution of India's constitutional problem; at the same time, it may be that unforeseen circumstances may compel a large number of States or groups of States not to adhere to the new Union. Accordingly, the States Delegation asked Sir Stafford Cripps that in that contingency, the non-adhering States should be accorded the option of having a union of their own with full sovereign status in accordance with a suitable and agreed procedure devised for the purpose. It was pointed out that provision to that effect had been made for non-adhering Provinces. We were told that this eventuality had not been considered in connection with the Draft Declaration. This shows that apart (far ?) from receiving treatment better than the Provinces to which the States are entitled on constitutional and historic grounds, they were not being treated even on par with the Provinces in respect of future constitutional developments.
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