Legal Document No 19
I have received your Highness’s letter of the I Seth of April, informing me of the dismissal of Diwan Lachman Das, and forwarding, for my consideration, a scheme which you have prepared for the re-organisation of your Council.
Your Highness’s letter has received my most careful attention, and I have now to inform you of the conclusions at which I have arrived with regard to the very important questions which you have been good enough to refer to me.
in the first place, 1 cannot avoid informing your Highness that the news of the sudden removal of Diwan Lachman Das was received by me with some surprise. Your Highness appointed him to your council after consulting me, and I hoped that your Highness would, before making another change of Governments give me some previous intimation of your views. However, this point has already been brought to your notice by Mr. Plowden and I do not now desire to dwell upon it any further.
With regard to your Highness’s scheme for the future administration of Kashmir, I would ask you to consider the following observations.
Your Highness proposes that the administration should be conducted or assisted by a council consisting of a President, .a Vice-President, three other members, and a secretary. The presidency you would retain in your own hands. You would appoint your brother Raja Amar Singh to be Vice-President, and you would also make him Prime Minister with executive powers. The other three members of the Council would be Raja Ram Singh, Babu Nilambar Mukerji, and Diwan Janki Prasad; and they would be charged respectively with the control of affairs in the military, revenue, and miscellaneous departments. The Prime Minister would have special charge of the judicial and foreign departments. Diwan Janki Prasad would be Secretary in addition to his other duties. It is proposed that the Council should be consultative.
It appears to me that a Government constituted in this manner is open to some criticism. In the first place, I am inclh1cd to doubt whether it is altogether in accordance with your Highness’s dignity to be President of the Council. Secondly. your Highness’s brothers are still young, and have had little opportunity of acquiring practical experience in administrative work. Babu Nilambar Mukerji has no knowledge of revenue matters, and is altogether unfit to take charge of so important a department of the administration. Of Divan Janki Prasad l know little, but I understand that he is not a man of marked character and ability. Under these circumstances your Highness’s scheme does not appear to me to hold out any certain promise of success.
Nevertheless, I do not desire to raise any objection to the principle of the proposed arrangements. I regard your Highness as the responsible ruler of the State, and I wish to meet your views as far as possible, and to afford you every assistance in carrying them out. If, therefore, your Highness prefers to maintain a Council and to assume the presidency yourself. I . m ready to assent to your views in this matter, and also with :regard to the nomination of your brothers and Diwan Janki Prasad. On one point only I feel that in your Highness’s interests I must ask you to modify your proposals. I cannot think that the appointment of Babu Nilambar Mukerji as Revenue Minister would be desirable. I am of opinion that for the charge of revenue affairs your Highness should secure the services of some thoroughly competent of official with practical experience of administration. I also think that at least one other official of similar qualifications should be appointed to direct, either as member of Council or in some capacity, the judicial and executive branches of your Government. If your Highness can name any Native Officials in the British Service who seem to me to possess the requisite qualifications I shall be glad to place them at your disposal. If your Highness cannot suggest any names I shall be ready and willing to make inquiries, and to supply you with the best men available either in the Punjab or elsewhere. I have learnt with pleasure that your Highness has already asked for the services of some four or five officers to be employed in the accounts and forest departments. But your Highness’s government seems to require something more than the loan of a few subordinate officials. What is wanted is that you should associate with your principal officers two or three thoroughly trained and capable persons, who will be able to give your Highness effective aid in directing and controlling the main branches of the administration. I trust that your Highness will consider these suggestions and will take such steps as may have the effect of strengthening your government from an administrative point of view. I need hardly add that, with regard to this question and to all other questions of importance. Your Highness should freely consult the Resident, who will give you every assistance in his power.
In making these observations I do not overlook the fact, that, since the appointment of the Council of which Diwan Lachman Das was a member, considerable progress has been made in the direction of reforms useful work has been done with regard to the revenue administration, and in the reorganization of the Public Works and Medical Departments. But much remains to be done, and it is because I am deeply conscious of the importance of the Kashmir State, and of the responsibilities of the British Government in regard to it, that I have so carefully examined the proposals which your Highness. has put forward.
I would particularly urge upon your Highness’s attention the necessity for a careful investigation into the condition of your Highness’s finances, and of the executive and judicial services. Until these are placed upon a thoroughly sound footing it will be impossible to hope for any material increase in the prosperity of the State.