Accession of Princely States and India Dominion

31 Dec 2015 11:46:12

It is not fair to attach ‘merger’ controversy with the accession   of Indian Princely states with India

By-Daya Sagar:

26th October  is Accession Day, the day the Indian princely state  of Jammu & Kashmir formally acceded with Independent India Dominion in 1947 after the British  retreated from India. It was Pakistan that had taken birth on 14th August 1947 and India, the Bharat, was already on the world map. The procedure and formal documentation as regards accession of J&K with India was no different than  it was adopted for any other Princely State keeping in view the references as could emerge from the contents of the Indian independence Act 1947 of  British Parliament  as well as  keeping in view that the constitution of Independent इंड़िया was yet to be drafted.

J&K was already integral part of Bharat (India) on 26th Oct 1947, no doubt  it became part of Independent India Dominion on 26th October 1947 ( भारत के संबिधान की उद्देशिका - २६ नवम्बर १९४६ २  -के अनुसार सम्पूर्ण प्रभुत्व संपन्न (SOVEREIGN) लोकतंत्रात्मक (DEMOCRATIC )  गणराज्य (REPUBLIC ) . So it is not that fair to say that when Maharaja Hari Singh Signed instrument of accession on 26th Oct 1947 and Lord Mount Batten accepted the same on 27th Oct 1947 J&K become integral part of India ( Bharat), J&K in a way became part sovereign democratic republic as regards governance of affairs concerning India. Section-3 of  The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir too says that The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India. The  Preamble of J&K Constitution too says :-WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR, having solemnly resolved, in pursuance of the accession of this State to India which took place on the twenty sixth day of October, 1947, to further define the existing relationship of the State with the Union of India as an integral part thereof, ... . Where as it was it was Pakistan that came into geographical existence as a Country ( Dominion) on 14th August  1947. Bharat ( India)  was already there since millenniums and had once again become an independent sovereign Dominion on 15th August. Similarly message about status of Bharat emerges from Art – 6 of COI  Rights of citizenship of certain persons who have migrated to India from Pakistan.—Notwithstanding anything in article 5, a person who has migrated to the territory of India from the territory now included in Pakistan shall be deemed to be a citizen of India at the commencement of this Constitution if— .......

But since all these years the affairs have not been taken care with that seriousness people of J&K have been made to land in an environment of controversies and confusions where while Accession day of no other Princely State of British India Empire is observed it is only for J&K such references are made every year in Oct 1947.

So need of the hour is that the real definitions, interpretations and truths about J&K being India are taken to the world community  so as to remove any other wise impressions and definitions worth their getting carried by otherwise elements and expressions.

Since  the affairs concerning the local needed of J&K all these years have  remained entangled in the political lusts of the local leaders and the likes & dislikes of some prime Indian leadership among other things the issue of Accession of J&K too had been dragged into debates even by some so called mainstream ( Indian Stream) leadership. Leadership of Pakistan born on the foundations of Communalism & Hatred too has all these years used the happenings in Jammu & Kashmir for propping Mohd Ali  Jinnah’s Two Nation theory. Some prime leadership of J&K  too have used issues like delayed accession of J&K and contents of Instrument of Accession that the Prince of pre 1947 Indian Princely State of J&K Maharaja Hari Singh signed for India  for keeping J&K in political turmoil. With the political adventurism diversifying  in J&K , very recently , more particularly after 2010, even one of the Chief Ministers of J&K has tried to boil the controversies further by saying that J&K only acceded with India and has not yet merged where as other princely states merged with India after  1947 . But no clarifications have been made by GOI. Nor has any advisory been issued by Union Government for the J&K Chief Minister. Hence it has been only due to such like mishandling of issues of national interest that ‘Accession Day’  this day observed only for J&K and not for any other state.

It is not fair to attach ‘merger’ controversy with the accession   of Indian Princely states with India


It has been  opined by some that  all other acceding states ( princely ) first acceded to Union of India and then merged with it, where as JK has only acceded and did not merge. Where as  the term ‘merger’  has no relevance to the ‘accession’ that the princely states of British Indian Empire had to execute with India Dominion or new Dominion of Pakistan as a result of British retreat and partition of India in 1947. To attract the attention of the innocent people as well as the general opinion holders Omar  some anti people elements  make use of the literary meaning of the term merger to promote his suggestion that J&K  after 1947 accession can not be considered as good an Indian state as is Punjab or Kerala. And very desperately these people quote the expressions like ‘own constitution’; state flag; Article-370- a Bridge/  Special Status/ Autonomy to support their  expressions. To a common man the word merger means like the combining of two or more companies or  combination of two or more companies creating a new organization or absorption of one by  the other company or amalgamation or  the extinguishment of an estate  or estates by  absorption into a greater one / others ones and the like. But such terminology cannot be used in simple literary meaning here for 26th October 1947  accession. 

To be brief the answer could be that since over last 6 decades the J&K affairs have not been truthfully handled by Delhi leaders and a class of people mostly belonging to Kashmir Valley have only remained in focus as regards the choice & proximity of policy makers, the common opinions that have been more cultivated in Kashmir Valley do not totally reject those who question even 1947 accession. Where as October 1947 Accession of J&K with India was a completed exercise with no any scope for even the Maharaja of J&K to reopen the issue.

Article-1  included in Part- I (THE UNION AND ITS TERRITORY ) of Constitution of India says that (1) India, that is Bharat  shall be a Union of States, (2) The States and the territories thereof shall be as specified in the First Schedule. And in First Schedule  State of J&K is mentioned at Sr No 15  along with other States of the Union without any separate or special reference.  Not only this no any  reference  is made of  even  of  Article 370 of Indian Constitution while defining the territories / States of India. So, from all technical angles the integration of the Indian Princely State of J&K  with India Dominion has been total .

Hence there is utmost need to protect the innocent common masses from the ‘political’ sharks who have been all these years attempting  to see a ‘separate identity’ for J&K maintaining a distance from the Union of India as compared to other Indian states as part thereof ( of India )  even pleading  that ‘we have our own Constitution’. Where as Section- 3 of J&K Constitution  lays down that -The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral  part of the Union of India .

The meanings/ spirits lying at the back of terms used by those who so seriously drafted in 1947 a uniform  instrument of accession for a large chunk ( nearly 550 ) of the  Indian Princely States that had no viable future in acceding to newly born dominion of Pakistan  cannot be  drawn so casually  The then Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten had not presented on 25th July 1947 any  draft of an Instrument of “Merger” for the princely states that wished to “merge” with India Dominion  like the one he had presented to them as the draft of common Instrument of Accession for those Princely States that wished to accede  to India Dominion ?.Surely the fact and truth being violated is that  there was no any instrument of or for merger  and it the only decided document for completing the process was the drafted and accepted Instrument of Accession  that was also used by J&K Prince on 26th October 1947.

Objective behind using the term merger  w.r.t  some acceding  states by those who were doing spade work for drafting Constitution of India  or / and  were to  complete the process of integration of tiny Indian States need  be understood in the context of the times then prevailing and the status of some princes. Inferences can not be drawn so casually as have  been done even by leaders like  Mr. Omar Abdullah in recent times.

No one has any right or option available to interpret the terms  ‘Merger’  and  ‘accession’  to one’s own choice . Inferences can not be drawn beyond what the authors of the integration process of the Indian States  had aimed  for. If atall the term merger has been used any where it has been  for purposes of administrative and geographical conveniences   with respect to some of the smaller states that acceded with India Dominion and were later merged with each other or larger States  to form new units. In 1947 many Princes were no more than simple tax collectors & service providers.Some of the acceded princely states even lost their total identity while merging with other  or larger princely states. Those who are today attempting to mis quote the facts, will have to be checked / stopped by GOI. Article- 370 comes nowhere in the way of GOI for proceeding against the ideologues who challenge  or mis quote the facts on the  integrity / sovereignty of India.                                                                         


Government of India Act 1935 of British Parliament was ideologically accepted by the then Indian leadership. It was no more than a compromise under the circumstances  and the Indian Independence 1947 had hence ultimately  had to follow there after.But still to have a professional feel of the conditions that prevailed  it could be said that  Government of India Act 1935 in a way focused on ::* the grant of a large measure of autonomy to the provinces of British India (ending the system of diarchy introduced by the Government of India Act 1919)**provision for the establishment of a "Federation of India", to be made up of both British India and some or all of the "princely states"

Princely States of India in Indian British Empire were just nominally sovereign entities of British India during the British Raj. No doubt  they were  not directly governed by the British, but were rather in a way under a form of indirect rule, subject to a subsidiary alliance and the suzerainty or paramountcy of the British crown.

There were 565 princely states in India at the time of independence in 1947, but a large number out of them had in a way only contracted with the Viceroy of India to provide public services and tax collection. Only 20-21 Princely states could be said as having  governments that could be in the real sense named as State governments and from amongst them  only four were large identities i.e, Baroda , and Jammu & Kashmir , Hyderabad , Mysore. All the princes after accession were given pension. The accession process was largely immediate & smooth  except in the case of  Hyderabad and Jammu & Kashmir (where it was victim of personal ambitions of some and favouritism from others).

Integration of Indian states was also one of the objectives in hand with the British before the  grant  independence to India. This indirectly reflected from  Indian Independence Act, 1947  that contained the provision like all treaties, agreements, etc. between His Majesty`s Government and the rulers of the Indian States to lapse; the words `Emperor of India` to be omitted from Royal Style and Titles; the Indian states to be free to accede to either of the new Dominion of India or Pakistan ; Monarchy to be  abolished and hence  annexation of the princely states.

It is not fair to attach ‘merger’ controversy with the accession   of Indian Princely states with India

In the National Provisional Government that was formed , Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel headed the State Department. With lapse of British Paramountcy and the constitution of Independent India Dominion yet to be drawn the only immediate proposal that could be mooted for accession of Princely States with India Dominion was to surrender atleast the subjects that were handled by the British Crown for the Native States ie. Defence, Foreign Affairs, Communication and the allied ones.  

By 15th August, as many as 136 jurisdictional states acceded to the Indian Union. V P Menon  got negotiated merger documents of smaller princely states with the larger ones  like  was done  as regards  small states of Orissa with the Province of Orissa. Similarly on 18th December 1947 the Chattisgarh rulers merged with the Central Provinces.

In between 17th to 21st January 1948  scores of minor states in Kathiawar entered into agreements  to merge and form the Union of Kathiawar that started unified governance around  February 15 1948. Similarly for  geographical and administrative reasons, Baroda and Kolhapur were  merged with the then Bombay Province; Gujarat states were also merged with the Bombay Province.

And like wise a process of accession of princely states with Union of India was set that was also at places followed  by  merger of many other tiny states with other smaller states/ larger provinces.

Out of the integration process taken in hand 61 other smaller acceding  states were taken through merger exercises  to form seven centrally administered areas like states of Himachal Pradesh, Vindhya Pradesh (present day Madhya Pradesh), Tripura, Manipur, Bhopal, Kutch and Bilaspur .

United States of Matsya, Union of Vindhya Pradesh, Madhya Bharat, Patiala & East Punjab States Union, Rajasthan and United States of Cochin-Travancore  to passed through local merger exercises  during the  integration process taken for acceding princely states keeping in view the local geographical and administrative needs.

So, it need be noted  as regards the merger it could be referred only to amalgamation of Princely states with each other after acceding or before acceding and hence it is unfair to confuse and misguide innocent subjects of J&K in the name of accession and merger.

THE MERGED STATES (LAWS) ACT, 1949 ACT NO. 59 OF 1949  [ 26th December, 1949.] was passed  to extend certain laws to certain areas administered as parts of Governors' Provinces or as Chief Commissioners' Provinces. By Orders under section 290A of the Government of India Act, 1935, (25 and 26 Geo. 5, c. 2.) provisions were made for the administration of certain areas either as if they formed part of an adjoining Governor' s Province or as if they were a Chief Commissioner' s Province; and it was expedient to provide that certain laws should be extended to, and by virtue of such extension, be in force in those areas  an Act called the Merged States (Laws) Act, 1949 was enacted ( 26 Dec 1949) that came into force on the 1st day of January, 1950 . It was laid down that the  expressions" absorbing Province" and" merged State" had the same meanings as in the States' Merger (Governors' Provinces) Order, 1949 , [ as amended by the States' Merger (United Provinces) Order, 1949 ]. This Act also laid down that the expression" new Provinces" means the Chief Commissioners' Provinces constituted by the States' Merger (Chief Commissioners' Provinces) Order, 1949 ,  as amended by the States' Merger (United Provinces) Order, 1949 and the Acts, Ordinances and Regulation specified in the Schedule were  extended to, and made in  in force in all the new Provinces.  

Hence during the period 1948-1950, some of the princely states that joined India were either incorporated into existing former provinces of British India or others were formed into unions of new states. The senior ruling prince within the union was in general  appointed as the  Rajpramukh.. In return for surrendering the government of their states, together with their revenues and military forces, the former ruling princes were guaranteed their hereditary styles and titles, certain privileges of rank and honour, as well as economic security like privy purses to cover the living expenses of themselves and their families. Two States of Bhutan and Sikkim, became Indian protectorates. Three other states, Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, and Junagadh, failed to accede / show intentions for  either dominion before 15th August 1947.

(a). A cluster of Princely States   of Ajmer-Merwara, a British India Territory, was given geographical expression as Rajputana. In these 20  dynastic Rajputana States before 20th Century the Rulers were the fountain head of all Executive, Legislative and Judicial Authority. Except for a few benevolent rulers  most of them represented the despots of princes and their orders. People had no hand in administration and there were no democratic institutions. So as soon as India  got freedom from British, Home Minister of India Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel had to start  the process of integration ( merger) of the States to form bigger units and this process  for Rajputana started in March, 1948. (Greater) Rajasthan was formed when Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer also joined the United States of Rajasthan. Maharana Udaipur was made Maharaj Pramukh with Sawai Man Singh of Jaipur as Raj Pramukh. This new State of Rajasthan was inaugurated by Sardar Patel on 30/3/1949 at Jaipur  and functions started around 7/4/1949. It is here where merger  had relevance and those creating accession merger controversies must understand this.             

Hari Singh’s Instrument  integrates J&K with India Union

The Constitution of India came into force on 26.1.1950 and the State of Rajasthan therein was given the status of ‘B’ Class State. In 1956 State Re-organisation Act was passed. Consequent upon the recommendation of State Re-organisation Commission, the Union Territory of Ajmer Merwara which had the Status of Part ‘C’ States , Abu, Sunel and Tappa areas merged into the State of Rajasthan and the Reorganised Unit is the Rajasthan of today . ( Part-B States - 1. Hyderabad. 2. Jammu and Kashmir. 3. Madhya Bharat. 4. Mysore. 5. Patiala and East Punjab States Union. 6. Rajasthan. 7. Saurashtra. 8. Travancore- Cochin. 9. Vindhya Pradesh ).( Part-C  States : 1. Ajmer. 2. Bhopal. 3. Bilaspur. 4. Cooch-Behar. 5. Coorg. 6, Delhi. 7. Himachal Pradesh. 8. Kutch. 9. Manipur. 10. Tripura.)

(b).The Punjab Merged States (Laws) Act, 1950 :. AN ACT TO EXTEND CERTAIN LAWS TO THE MERGED STATES OF LOHARU, DUJANA AND PATAUDI. :Whereas by an order under section 290-A of the Government of India Act, 1935, provision has been made for the administration of the States of Loharu, Dujana and Pataudi as if they formed part of the State of Punjab; And whereas it is expedient to provide that certain laws should be extended to, and by virtue of such extension, be in force in, the said


It is not fair to attach ‘merger’ controversy with the accession   of Indian Princely states with India

(c) THE HIMACHAL PRADESH AND BILASPUR (NEW STATE) ACT, 1954 ACT NO. 32 OF 1954 [28th May, 1954.]  too could be quoted to ‘educate’ the advisors of Omar Abdullah ji as regards  Accession and merger . An Act to provide for the formation of the new State of Himachal Pradesh by uniting the existing States of Himachal Pradesh and Bilaspur, and for matters connected therewith.

(d) India used its  persuasion to get most of the princely states to  accede  with it — the only exception being when it had to send its armed forces to Hyderabad. India inherited  variety of princely states that were grouped from administrative  angles and mentioned in Schedule-1 of the Constitution of India  as Part- A, B, C and D states (  Andaman and Nicobar Islands which was designated as a union territory).

Part-A consisted of Nine states which had elected assemblies with governors.( Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh (formerly Central Province and Berar), Madras (now Tamil Nadu), Orissa (now Odisha), Punjab (formerly East Punjab), Uttar Pradesh (formerly United Province) and West Bengal. ).

Part- B consisted of former princely states which formed a group. They formed nine states by merging with each other were princely states of groups of princely states which were governed by a Rajapramukh who happened to be one of the kings and had elected legislature. The Rajapramukh was appointed by the President of India. Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Bharat, Mysore, Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Travancore-Cochin.

In part- C, there were 10 states  formed out of states where the British had appointed their own commissioners. India had assimilated most of the small / tiny princely states into the union within three years of the independence.( Part – C covered both commissioners’ province from the British time and some small princely states were Ajmer, Bhopal, Bilaspur, Coorg, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Kutch, Manipur, Tripura and Vindhya Pradesh. They were governed by a Chief Commissioner appointed by the President of India.)

( e ). Sikkim and Burma decided to become sovereign states.

(fa) The States Reorganisation Act also transferred some Bengali-speaking territories from Bihar to West Bengal while Bombay state was enlarged with the addition of Saurashtra and Kutch, Marathi-speaking districts of Nagpur division of Madhya Pradesh and the Marathwada region of Hyderabad.(fb). Soon the government realised that the enlarged Bombay state had become too big for smooth administration, leading to its bifurcation on May 1, 1960. While the Marathi-speaking areas became part of Maharashtra, the Gujarati-speaking areas were put together to create Gujarat. (fc).Kerala was formed as a separate state on November 1, 1956 with the merger of Travancore-Cochin state with Malabar district of Madras state and Kasaragod of South Canara (Dakshina Kannada). (fd).  In lieu, Kanyakumari district was given to the Madras state which was renamed as Tamil Nadu in 1969. (fe).Madhya Pradesh, Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal state were merged to create Madhya Pradesh .Marathi-speaking Nagpur division was transferred to Bombay state. (fg).Mysore state (renamed as Karnataka in 1973) was enlarged by the addition of Coorg state and the Kannada speaking districts from southern Bombay state and western Hyderabad state, while Ajmer state was merged with Rajasthan.  (fh). Nagaland was made a state on December 1, 1963  (fi). Punjab was divided with creation of Haryana while some northern districts of Punjab were transferred to Himachal Pradesh which was upgraded from being a Union Territory to a new state on January 25, 1971. (fj) Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura became full-fledged states on January 21, 1972 (fk) Kingdom of Sikkim joined the Indian union as a state on April 26, 1975. (fl) . Eastern state Assam continued being trimmed. After creations of Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura,  Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram became states on February 20, 1987

(fm) Goa became a full-fledged state on May 30 1987  (fn). On  May 30 1987 Daman and Diu  became a Union Territory. (fo). As a result of  mass movement  The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2000 ordered creation of three new states. Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 2000,  (fp) Uttaranchal (now renamed Uttarakhand) was carved out of Uttar Pradesh to become a

state on November 9  2000. (fq).Bifurcation of Bihar was done with creation of Jharkhand on November 15  2000.

(viii): However, the unification of India was still incomplete without the French and Portuguese enclaves. The French authorities were more realistic when they ceded Pondicherry (Puducherry) and Chandannagore to India on 1st November, 1954. However, the Portuguese Government maintained that since Goa was part of the metropolitan territories of Portugal, it could be in no way affected by the British and French withdrawal from India. When negotiations and persuasions did not move the Portuguese government, units of Indian army had to be mobilized and Goa, Daman and Diu were liberated and annexed to India on 19th December, 1961.French colony Pondicherry (now Puducherry) was made a Union Territory in 1962. .

Hari Singh’s Instrument fully integrates J&K with India  Union:

The Instrument of accession as signed by Hari Singh  ( like as by signed by any other princely state )  did say “Whereas the Indian Independence Act, 1947, provides that as from the fifteenth day of August, 1947, there shall be set up an independent Dominion known as INDIA, and that the Government of India Act 1935, shall with such omissions, additions, adaptations and modifications as the Governor General may by order specify, be applicable to the Dominion of India.

And whereas the Government of India Act, 1935, as so adapted by the Governor General, provides that an Indian State may accede to the Dominion of India by an Instrument of Accession executed by the Ruler thereof. Now, therefore, I Shriman Inder Mahinder Rajrajeswar Maharajadhiraj Shri Hari Singhji, Jammu & Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibbet adi Deshadhipati, Ruler of Jammu & Kashmir State, in the exercise of my Sovereignty in and over my said State do hereby execute this my Instrument of Accession and……”       This Instrument no where talked of any conditional accession as regards sovereignty. Since the Constitution of Independent India Dominion was yet to be drawn, the  circumstantial   conditions / limitations that  were kept in the Instrument of accession were only regarding the jurisdictions of the Central  & State governments  as regards internal governance  and not w.r.t to any classifications of nationality. Neither  was there provision for consent of the people of J&K in Indian Independence Act 1947 nor was there any reference of such consent in the Instrument of accession signed by Maharaja of J&K, not even in the forwarding letter written by the Maharaja to Governor general of India.

But in response even to  claims that Jammu Kashmir State has  her own Constitution and it is different than Constitution of India , no otherwise views and clarifications have been given by Government of India or other stake holders. People questioning the total oneness of J&K State with India  or  those who claim that J&K is constitutionally not like other Indian Princely Sates that  acceded with India  in terms of Indian Independence Act 1947 need be taken more seriously .

Those who have confusions like merger or accession of J&K even on 26th Oct 2015 can well be counselled  with the text of merged states and like acts.                                                                               

( The author is a social activist and Sr. Journalist . [email protected] )

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