Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Secretary to State for India to The Government of India May 23, 1884 Legal Document No 7 (Extract)

The Secretary to State for India to The Government of India May 23, 1884
Legal Document No 7

(2) In anticipation of the death of Maharaja Ranbir Singh which is believed to be near at hand, your Excellency in Council has had under consideration (l) the course to be adopted in regard to the succession; (2) the measures which should be taken on the commencement of a new reign, in order to secure reforms in the administration of the State; and (3) the expediency of a change in the existing arrangements for the representation of the British Government at the Maharaja's Court.

(3) Your Excellency in Council is of opinion that any attempt on the part of the Maharaja to exclude his eldest son from the succession should be discouraged, and that Mian Pertab singh should be proclaimed immediately on his father's death; you propose to require from the new ruler substantial reforms in the administration, and to insist upon their execution being entrusted to competent hands; and you request from Her Majesty's Government discretionary authority to appoint, at any time after the death of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. a British Resident in Kashmir, with the position and powers ordinarily given to such an officer in a feudatory State.

(4) While I regret to receive so unfavourable an account of the character of the Maharaja's heir, I agree with your Government in regarding as inexpendient any deviation in the case Excellency's of Kashmir from the regular succession by order of primogeniture, or any partition of the State, by will or otherwise, among the three sons of the present Chief. I approve therefore, of the instructions in accordance with this view, which I understand to have been sent to the Officer onSpecial Duty in Kashmir.

(5) As to the urgent need of reforms in the administration of the State, there is, unfortunately, no room for doubt. It may, indeed, be a question whether, having regard to the circumstances under which the sovereignty of the Country was entrustd to the present Hindu ruling family, the intervention of the British Government on behalf of the Muhamadan population has not already been too long delayed; but, however this may be, Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that' upon a fresh succession, no time, should be lost in taking whatever steps may be requisite in order to place the administration upon a sound footing.

(6) The same occasion would, in the opinion of Her Majesty’s Government, be a suitable one for introducing a change in the present arrangement under which your Excellency's representative remains in Kashmir for a portion only of the year.

(7) In 1845 it was decided not to appoint a political officer to reside permanently at the Maharaja's Court, whilst in 1873, when the measure was recommended by Lord Northbrook's Government, the necessity for it did not seem to Her Majesty's Government to be so clearly established as to justify them in disregarding objections which were expressed by authorities entitled to respect. But in the interval which has since elapsed, circumstances have greatly changed; and whether regard be had to the condition of the country, to the character of the Prince into whose hands the Government will shortly pass, or to the course of events beyond the course of events beyond the border, which has materially increased the political importance of Kashmir, the appointment which you request a discretionary authority to make appears to be not only desirable but necessary. Your Excellency in Council Isis therefore, at liberty to proceed in the matter as you may think proper at any time after the death of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, taking care meanwhile that strict secrecy is observed as to your intentions.

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