§ The EARL of ELLENBOROUGH
rose to bring forward the Motion of which he had placed notice on the Paper for the production of certain papers which had reference to recent transactions in India, and particularly to a Proclamation which had been issued on the 21st of January, 1852, by Mr. Frere, the Commissioner in Sinde, by order of the Governor General of India. In that Proclamation it was declared that Ali Morad, who was an independent prince, and an ally of the British Government, and who was in possession of considerable terri- 239 tories in the northern part of Sinde, had, by a Commission appointed by the British Government, been found guilty of having forged a certain treaty by which he had obtained possession of certain districts instead of certain villages, which he claimed to be entitled to under a treaty called "The Treaty of Nownahur;" and that, in consequence of his having been thus found guilty, he had been deprived, not merely of those territories which he had obtained fraudulently, by means of that supposititious treaty, but of all his territories, save those which he had received from his father. If he (the Earl of Ellenborough) had not been entirely satisfied of the strict sense of justice which, under all circumstances, animated their Lordships, he should have hesitated long before he brought this subject before them; for he knew that there must always be a considerable prejudice entertained in that House against any person deemed guilty of the disgraceful crime of forgery, and especially when that crime was stated to be committed by a prince. But of this he was quite sure, that their Lordships would not willingly see the poorest person, either in the dominions of this country or under the Government of India, deprived of these three advantages, when accused of any offence: first, that the tribunal before which his offence was to be investigated should be free even from the suspicion of partiality; next, that the evidence upon which the decision of that tribunal was formed should be free from taint; and, thirdly, that if the tribunal should be satisfied of the defendant's guilt, the punishment should be commensurate with his offence, and not inconsistent with the condition of the person accused. Not only had not these three circumstances combined in the case of Ali Morad, but, what was more striking, not even one of them had taken place. The condition of Ali Morad, as he had already informed their Lordships, was the condition of an independent prince, and an ally of the British Government. Our quarrel with him was that of State with State. We said that he had possessed himself fraudulently of lands belonging to us. We were undoubtedly justified in ascertaining by any means in our power whether a fraud had been committed by him towards us. We were undoubtedly bound to afford him every means to make his explanation and his defence; but we were at liberty to come to, and to act upon, our; own conclusions thereon—to require 240 from him the surrender of the territories which we thought that he had fraudulently obtained and wrongfully withheld from us; to demand a full compensation for the losses which we had sustained owing to that wrongful withholdance, and even to inflict a penalty upon him for the injury which he had done us. But there our power and our rights as a State ended. We were not justified in dealing with him as a prince and a subject at once. We had a right to demand from him the territory so wrongfully withheld, and such compensation as we might deem ourselves entitled to; but not a right to proceed against him as a prince for the moral offence of forgery, and to deprive him of every thing which constituted the dominion by which he reigned. The Ameer Ali Morad was no ordinary person, nor had his services to the British Government been of an ordinary character. If he had not co-operated with us at the end of the year 1842, and in the commencement of 1843, it was matter of great doubt whether it would have been possible for General Sir Charles Napier to have moved his army to Hyderabad, or to terminate successfully the operations in which he was then engaged in Sinde. On a subsequent occasion he joined Sir Charles Napier as an independent prince, with a force of 5,000 men of his own troops, and contributed to our ultimate success in the operations in the hills, by occupying certain roads by which the enemy might have escaped—a manœuvre by which certain operations of great difficulty and brilliancy were effectually carried out. At a still subsequent period—in 1846—not the co-operation, but the mere quiescence, of Ali Morad was of great value to us. When Sir Charles Napier, with an army of 14,000 men and 100 guns, was moving on Moultan, for the purpose of co-operating with the army of the Sutlej, and of preventing any movement of the enemy from Moultan on the flank of our army, the quiescence of Ali Morad greatly contributed to the success of our operations. At a still later period his quiescence and his placing the resources of his dominions at our disposal enabled the army, which had found it necessary to retire from Moultan, to take a position with its back to the dominions of Buhawulpore, and to march out afterwards to effect the capture of Moultan, and subsequently to advance to Gujerat, and there take a part in the battles which terminated the war. There had not been, from the commencement of our operations in Sinde to the close, the 241 smallest suspicion of Ali Morad's political fidelity to our interests. That being the case, he (the Earl of Ellenborough) said, that even if Ali Morad as a subject had not been entitled, as he was entitled, to great consideration as to the manner in which the charges preferred against him should be investigated, still he would have been entitled to it as a prince who had rendered services of great value to the British Government under circumstances of great difficulty. Now, what was the constitution of the tribunal before which the investigation of the charges against this prince had taken place? Where the result of the inquiry depended on the most careful examination of the truth and on the weighing of the character of the evidence, and of the witnesses—where judicial habits and the absence of all possible suspicion of partiality were above all things required—it appeared to him that it would have been far preferable to have committed the conduct of the inquiry to some high judicial functionary of the Bombay, or the Bengal establishment. Preference, in his opinion, ought to have been given to the Bengal establishment; for in Bombay there had always been a strong party feeling with regard to all the transactions in Sinde. But nothing of that kind was done. The Commission consisted of three persons nominated by the Government, which was in point of fact, the plaintiff in the case, and which would obtain considerable profit, provided the result was in its favour. The first person nominated in that Commission was the First Commissioner in Sinde—in other words, the Governor of Sinde—a person who was interested in deciding the case against the person accused, because such a decision would add materially to the extent of the dominions confided to his charge. This gentleman was Mr. Pringle; but so high was the character of Mr. Pringle, so high was his mind, and so honourable were his feelings, that he (the Earl of Ellen-borough) had not the slightest doubt that, whatever decision Mr. Pringle might have come to, and whatever opinion he might have expressed respecting this case, they were dictated by the strictest sense of impartiality and justice; and, if he were satisfied, as he was not, that Mr. Pringle entertained no doubt as to the guilt of Ali Morad, he should be disposed to defer to that gentleman's opinion. But who were the other Commissioners with whom Mr. Pringle was associated? They 242 were Major Jacob and Major Laing. He (the Earl of Ellenborough) knew well the character of Major Jacob, though he was not personally acquainted with him; he was one of the most gallant officers in the Bombay army. He had done the State excellent service. As far as he (the Earl of Ellenborough) had at the time when he was in India the power of assigning rewards and honours, he had bestowed honour upon him by nominating him one of the honorary aides-de-camp to the Governor General. He considered Major Jacob one of the most promising officers in the army; but there was nothing in his character and qualifications as a bon sabreur that made him a fit person to sit on a bench of justice. If his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack were to desire to find a Judge for the Court of Queen's Bench, would he ask the Commander-in-Chief to recommend an officer of the 3rd Dragoons? What would have been said if it had been proposed, by way of lessening the difficulties of reforming the Court of Chancery, to place a Vice-Chancellor or a Lord Justice between two majors? And yet that was precisely the course which had been adopted. Still, if these two last-named Commissioners had been merely military men, he should not have ' objected to them; but it so happened that Major Jacob had served eight years in Sinde, and that the other officer had been present at Hyderabad, and had, he concluded, served for some time with his regiment in Sinde. Whatever might be the merits of the gentlemen who had served in India, this at any rate could not be denied—that they were subject to strong personal prejudices; and there could be no doubt that these gentlemen had their strong prejudices with respect to the accused. In such a case strict justice could not be done by them. He therefore said that it was not fair, and that it had not a good appearance, to place on a tribunal of three Commissioners two gentlemen who were liable to the suspicion that they could not enter upon their judicial duties with impartial minds. Now such being the constitution of the Commission, what was the evidence by which the guilt of the accused was sought to be established? There had been a treaty between the Ameer Ali Morad, his brother Roostum Khan, and his nephew, the Ameer Nusseer Khan, towards the end of 1842. By that treaty certain lands were made over to Ali Morad. It had been said that the lands 243 now claimed by the British Government were not mentioned in that treaty. Now, in the year 1843 Captain Pope was sent by Sir Charles Napier to see by what title Ali Morad held these lands, and it was said that he held them under the treaty of Nownahur; and that was the treaty now averred to be a forged document. A native officer in Ali Morad's service, Ali Gohur, swore on the Koran that the treaty which he then gave to Captain Pope was the original treaty; but though he then swore with great solemnity that it was the original treaty, he now came forward and swore that three days before he took out one leaf of the Koran on which the treaty was written, and substituted for it another leaf with another treaty, by the direct order of Ali Morad. Ali Gohur then came into court, on his own admission, a perjured man. He stood in the very same position in which the witnesses stood whose evidence was repudiated in the case of Jotee Pershaud last year, for he came to swear that that which he had formerly sworn was false. Now, Ali Gohur was a servant of Ali Morad, but did not accompany him in his campaign in the Hills. He was therefore dismissed from the service of Ali Morad; but before he was dismissed he was found to have embezzled a large sum of money and a quantity of grain. That was the person upon whose evidence the charge of fraud mainly depended. In addition to this witness there was another, Ali Hussain, who had been an irregular horseman in Ali Morad's employ. Ali Morad had raised him, as was not unusual in those countries, from an inferior rank to the care and custody of his estates—an office in which he had possession of Ali Morad's seal, and in which he must have obtained an acquaintance with his signature. Now, there was produced by Ali Gohur a paper from Ali Morad purporting to be an order to him to commit the forgery now complained of. This man, Ali Hussain, was also dismissed afterwards from the service of Ali Morad for some misconduct. There was another witness against Ali Morad, a moonshee, who was brought from a prison at Shikarpoor, where he had been imprisoned by the British Government on a charge of fraud, and his evidence had been produced to support the evidence of the two other witnesses, one of whom admitted himself to be guilty of perjury, and the other had been dismissed for fraud and other misconduct. He (the Earl of Ellenborough) 244 was informed that on the evidence of these three persons the decision rested as to the fraud alleged to have been committed by Ali Morad. Supposing, however, the decision to be correct, another question arose, and that was this—was the sentence pronounced in consequence of it justifiable? Ali Morad held his territories under three different titles. He held part of his land by his father's will, who had left it to him, and this was left to him by the proclamation. He held another part by the treaty of Nownahur, with respect to which there was this dispute; and a third part he held as Rais or head of the family under the cession of the turban concluded at Dejee on the 19th of December, 1842. The claim of the British Government to lands stated to be unjustly withheld from it by Ali Morad, did not amount, at any rate, to a value exceeding 4,000l. a-year. Ali Morad asserted that they did not amount to even 1,500l. a year. In consequence of the conclusion to which the British Government came that Ali Morad had committed a forgery, and had thereby obtained these lands, he had not only been compelled to give up the lands in dispute, but had also seen his other lands confiscated to the amount of 100,000l. a year, or more. That was the punishment which had been inflicted on him for a fraud by which he could not by any possibility gain more than 4,000l. a-year. It seemed, therefore, to him that even if it should be decided that the crime of forgery had really been committed, the punishment was excessive, and the sentence ought to be revised. But a question arose out of these circumstances involving the good faith and reputation of this country, which regarded not only the case of Ali Morad, but also the case of the Nuwab of Buhawulpore, our faithful ally for three generations. By a treaty which we concluded with the Ameers of Sinde—which was afterwards rendered of no avail by the battle of Hyderabad—it was agreed that all the territory formerly belonging to the Nuwab of Buhawulpore, north of Roree on the Indus, should be ceded to him; but the more valuable part of the property was never ceded in consequence of a prior claim advanced by Ali Morad. The Nuwab of Buhawulpore had, therefore, been kept out of the largest portion of the territory which it was the intention of the British Government that he should hold, and which had been actually ceded to him by certain treaties. Now it was essential 245 to the continuance of our reputation in India for honour and good faith, that coming, as we now did, into the actual possession of the lands, we should make them over to the Nuwab of Buhawulpore, as was done by the treaty we had concluded with the Ameers of Sinde. He had always considered it to be a matter of the highest importance to mark, not only by the strongest proofs of personal consideration, but also by substantial rewards, the constant fidelity of the Nuwabs of Buhawulpore. They had been under every adverse situation the faithful allies of the British Government for three generations. It was the fidelity of the present Nuwab to his engagements with us that enabled us to proceed through his territories to Affghanistan. It was his support which enabled our army, on retiring from Moultan, to retire ten miles into his territory, and to march from it again to reduce that fortress. He therefore had a right to expect some territorial aggrandisement as the reward of his sacrifices and his fidelity. As yet he had only received an annuity of 10,000l., a sum which was utterly inadequate to his services, and also utterly inadequate to display the gratitude and consideration which we owed him. He therefore did trust that, in whatever way the British Government might think fit to deal with the property of Ali Morad, it would at any rate recollect that it was incumbent to place the Nuwub of Bahawulpore in the position in which he would have stood if the treaty with the Ameers of Sinde had been carried into effect. There was another claim which Ali Morad had upon British justice. Having in 1843 obtained possession of all the territoris included under the cession of the turban, he became the possessor of all the fortresses bordering on the territory of Jesselmere; and, at the request of the British Government, and with the assurance that he should be indemnified for giving them up, he made over those fortresses to the Rajah of Jesselmere. To this hour, however, no compensation had been made to the Ameer Ali Morad for that sacrifice. He had not only done all that a faithful ally could do by placing his army and the resources of his country at our disposal, but he had also, when it was proposed, for the purpose of consolidating our dominions, that there should be some extensive changes of territory, assented to the proposal, and yet to that hour he had never received the idemnity promised him. He had thought it right 246 to place these circumstances as shortly as he could before their Lordships, for if he did not he knew not any one else who would undertake the task; and it was only right that there should be at least one person in Parliament ready to state the case of parties in India who considered themselves aggrieved by the acts of the British Government. He had stated the case as he believed it to be according to the information he had received. All that he now desired was that the Government would reconsider the justice of their decision, and, if they should be satisfied of the justice of the decision against Ali Morad, then that they should revise his sentence, and not subject him to a punishment which he (the Earl of Ellenborough) thought was excessive, and inconsistent with the condition of Ali Morad, and injurious no less to his subjects than to himself, and which would shake the confidence of all the native princes of India in the fidelity of this country to its engagements, and in its kind feeling to those who had served it. The noble Earl then moved for—Copy of a Proclamation issued on the 21st of January, 1852, by Mr. Frere, the Commissioner in Sinde, by order of the Governor General of India, declaring the Forfeiture to the British Government of all the Territories held by the Ameer Ali Morad, except such as he received from his Father, on the ground of his having wrongfully obtained Possession of a Portion of those Territories by means of a forged Document styled the Treaty of Nownahur; also,An Account of the Estimated Revenue of the Territories so forfeited, distinguishing such as were obtained under the Treaty of Nownahur from such as were held by the Ameer Ali Morad as Rais, under the Cession of the Turban, concluded at Dojee on or about the 19th of December, 1842; also,An Account of the estimated Revenue of such of the Territories so forfeited as were heretofore in the Possession of the Nuwab of Buhawulpore, and were intended to be ceded to the said Nuwab by the several Treaties signed by the Ameers of Sinde on the 14th of February, 1843.
§ LORD BROUGHTON
said, he should not have presumed to rise before the First Minister of the Crown if this case concerned Her Majesty's present Government, or any other persons than himself, who was, in fact, answerable for these proceedings. If injustice had been committed—if there had been these grievous violations not only of the substance but of the very forms of common equity, he was answerable; for, having been at the time of these proceedings President of the Board of Control, he had authorised the sending to India that despatch by which Ali Morad 247 had been deprived—unjustly, as the noble Earl said, but justly, as he said—of his ill-acquired possessions; he (Lord Broughton), and not the present Government, nor any Member of it, was responsible. By the courtesy of the right hon. Gentleman who now presided at the Board of Control, he had been enabled to refresh his memory with respect to these transactions, and as they had heard the precise and admirable—so far as the mere statement went—the admirable statement of the noble Earl, he hoped that in presenting a very different portrait of this person, whom the noble Earl had so eulogised, their Lordships would be so kind as to give him their attention, and forget the difference between his and the noble Earl's capacity for making a statement. In the early part of the noble Earl's statement, he had, with sufficient accuracy, introduced to them the character and position of this Indian prince. It was quite true that he was a man of considerable importance; it was quite true that he had been of service, but he would show their Lordships presently of what service, to the British Government. It was quite true that he played a very distinguished part—it remained to be shown with what sort of distinction—in the proceedings in Sinde, to which the noble Earl referred. Ali Morad was, as the noble Earl had stated, the third son of a chieftain in Upper Sinde, who died some time ago, and left three sons, of whom the eldest was the 'Meer Roostum, the second the 'Meer Moobarik Khan, and the youngest the 'Meer Ali Morad. When this chieftain died, at the age of 80 years, he left his possessions to be divided into four equal parts, of which he gave one to each of his sons, and the additional fourth to his eldest son, the Ameer Roostum, as an appanage of the turban or rais-ship. The brothers went on amicably until the death of the second brother, who was succeeded by his son, Nusseer Khan, a personage much mixed up with the transactions to which the noble Earl had alluded. This happened in 1837. In a short time afterwards these princes quarrelled amongst themselves. The elder brother and his nephew took part together against Ali Morad, the younger brother, who claimed for himself a greater share of power than the other two princes thought he was entitled to. They had a long struggle together, which at last broke out into positive hostilities. A battle was fought at Nownahur, in Sep- 248 tember, 1842, in which Ali Morad was victorious, and he compelled his brother and nephew to sign a treaty; which treaty, in fact, had been the basis and the cause of most of the charges subsequently made against Ali Morad. By that treaty certain lands were given up to Ali Morad, as the fruits of victory, to which, had he subsequently behaved well, and no alteration been made in the treaty, no one would have been willing to dispute his complete right. But, not satisfied with the legitimate fruits of his victory, this person, as it afterwards appeared—and he (Lord Broughton) took the liberty of saying there was no doubt of it—did contrive, by means of an agent, to substitute among the leaves of the Koran, in which the treaty was signed, one leaf for another; and by so doing, he was put in possession of certain territories to which he had no right whatever. The noble Earl stated that the lands were but small; but, small or great, what this person did was to make himself master of terrritories to which he had no right, and by so doing to impose on the British Government, and make the British Government consider him a far more important person than he really was, and to treat with him as such. That was pretty well; but that was not all, or anything like all; for, not content with that, Ali Morad, at the time that Sir Charles Napier came, by orders of the Earl of Ellenborough, who was then Governor General, at the head of the Indian forces into Sinde, Ali Morad persuaded his brother to agree to a resignation of the turban or headship of the family, and with that resignation to give the lands attached to it. Meer Roostum gave up the turban to his brother, and he did this by the advice of Sir Charles Napier, as he should proceed to show by an extract from one of Sir Charles Napier's own despatches. Sir Charles Napier, writing to the Earl of Ellenborough, on the 30th September, 1842, said—I had a secret message from Meer Roostum. The bearer had an open letter in the usual unmeaning style of the Durbar, but the messenger privately informed Lieutenant Brown that Roostum could do nothing, and would escape to my camp. I did not like this, as it would have embarrassed me very much how to act; but the idea struck me at once that he might go to Ali Morad, who might induce him, as a family arrangement, to resign the turban to him (Ali Morad), especially as Roostum has long been desirous of getting rid of this charge. I, therefore, secretly wrote to Roostum and Ali Morad; and about one o'clock this morning I had an express from Ali Morad, to say that his brother (Roostum) is safe 249 with him, and that he requested me not to move upon Khyrpur before twelve o'clock to-day, to give time for his women to get away in safety.It appeared from that that the British Government were necessarily affected by any misdeed of Ali Morad, for it was on the advice of General Sir Charles Napier that Meer Roostum resigned the chieftainship of the family, and the lands attached to that chieftainship, to Ali Morad. But that also appeared from what Meer Roostum said himself at the conference between the Ameers of Sinde and the agent of the British Government, Major Outram, all of which would be found in the blue book presented to Parliament in 1843. Meer Roostum said—"By the general's own directions I sought refuge with Ali Morad" (and here he produced a letter from Sir Charles Napier directing him to place himself under the protection of Ali Morad), "who placed me under restraint, and made use of my seal, and compelled me to do as he thought proper. Would I resign my birthright of my own free will? I did not write that letter. Everything I did, I did by Ali Morad's advice, whose advice I was directed by the General to be guided by." There was another proof that whatever was done in respect to this person was done by order of the British Government, and if injustice was committed by the instrumentality of Ali Morad, the British Government were naturally the first to be blamed. But that was not all; for Ali Morad, not content with the proceeding he had described, entered into another agreement in December, 1842, by which Ali Morad agreed to give his brother compensation in lands for the resignation of the turban and the cession of those lauds which were attached to the turban; and how did he proceed with respect to that agreement? He signed the agreement with his brother Ameer Roostum; but the messenger sent to Sir Charles Napier with the second agreement, conferring upon Roostum, as he thought, equivalent advantages to the resignation of the turban and the cession of the lands attached to it, was intercepted by Ali Morad; the agreement was taken from him. The consequence was that it was not even known that such an agreement had been signed; Sir Charles Napier knew nothing of it; the Government of India and the noble Earl knew nothing of it; and Ali Morad did not do that which he had stipulated with his brother he would do—but he remained in 250 possession of those lands and those very benefits which he had agreed to give up to Meer Roostum as an equivalent for the resignation of the chieftainship, whereby he not only cheated his brother, but he cheated the British Government; because those territories which should have been in the possession of Meer Roostum by this treaty, would have been confiscated to the British Government by the conquest of Sinde with the other territories of the Ameers. It was a cheat not on Roostum and his family, but really on the British Government, who would otherwise have acquired those possessions by conquest. These transactions, to which the noble Earl had not alluded, appeared to give a very different character to Ali Morad from that assigned him by the noble Earl. But that was not all. After having defrauded his brother, in two instances, out of that which belonged to him, the next contrivance of Ali Morad was to persuade the unhappy man that Sir Charles Napier—instead of being animated, as he (Lord Broughton) believed he was, with a sincere desire to bring matters to a peaceable conclusion—was resolved to seize Meer Roostum, to imprison him and his family, and that his only resource was to fly. Meer Roostum listened to this advice and fled, and his flight was the immediate cause of hostilities between the British and the Sindians; and, in order to prove that Ali Morad instigated Roostum to fly, he would call in evidence Sir Charles Napier himself, who said, in a letter to the Governor General upon the subject—"Now, it strikes me that Ali Morad may have frightened the old man into the foolish step he has taken, on purpose to make his possession of the turban more secure. That, to do this, he told him I intended to make him a prisoner; Ali, pretending to be his friend, and only waiting for his opportunity to betray him." Such was the opinion of Sir Charles Napier of the character of Ali Morad, whose fidelity, to his (Lord Broughton's) great surprise, the noble Earl said was never suspected. [The Earl of ELLENBOROUGH: Political fidelity.] Well, whose political fidelity was never suspected. Then there was another letter written by the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) himself, and dated January 6, 1843, in which this passage occurs:—"I feel no confidence even in Ali Morad. I believed he managed the flight of Meer Roostum." If the noble Earl then at the head of the 251 British Government in India suspected that this man was really guilty of such atrocity—the double atrocity of forcing this old man to commit an act to bring down the vengeance of the British Government, and to plunge his own country in bloodshed and ruin—he would ask their Lordships whether there was any sort of reason to believe that an unfair character had been given to Ali Morad by those who had been looking into these transactions, and who had pronounced him guilty of many parts of the accusation against him? That the flight of Roostum was the immediate cause of hostilities was proved by the whole tenor of these despatches presented to Parliament. What was said by the Ameers in the last conference which took place on the 13th of February, 1843, just before the breaking out of the war? They said—"That is very bad; you will neither promise restitution of what has been taken from them (that is, the Ameers) by Ali Morad, nor will you allow them to right themselves. Everything that the British Government would have from them they had given and agreed to. Why oppress them any further? Promise to restore the lands Ali Morad had taken. They have given you all you wished for yourself, and Khaons Khan without a murmur." And at last the despatches said:—"If you will not promise restitution of the lands Ali Morad has taken, the Kyrpur Ameers must fight for their bread." What, then, was the fact? That the injustice committed against the Ameer Roostum and the frauds of Ali Morad, were the immediate cause of those hostilities which led to the ruin of the Ameers and the conquest of Sinde. He would not refer their Lordships to the details of those hostilities; it was not his intention to say anything of that which was called the conquest of Sinde. He was sorry this question had been opened, and had taken the liberty of informing the noble Earl privately that, in his opinion, it could lead to no possible good. He was very sorry to have to speak thus of Ali Morad. He was a fallen man now—a man disgraced by his own acts—a man favoured, exceedingly favoured, by the noble Earl; and the honour of being defended by the noble Earl was the only advantage he could possibly derive from the discussion. After Sinde was conquered, after those provinces were put in possession of Sir Charles Napier, their Lordships might ask, how came it that there was no suspicion of the perfidy and 252 misconduct of Ali Morad further than that to which he had alluded; no suspicion of the forgeries and misdeeds by which he had acquired that to which he had no right? But there was a suspicion, and that suspicion had reached Sir Charles Napier himself, of which he could convince their Lordships by reading a despatch from the Bombay Government, dated 25th February, 1850: "On this subject (Ali Morad) we also beg to refer to a confidential memorandum of Sir Charles Napier, recorded when quitting the government of Sinde, and to a demi-official letter addressed by him to the late Governor General (Lord Hardinge), of the 22nd of September, 1847, containing information relative to the alleged mode in which the supposed fraud was committed." There was also a minute by Sir G. Clark on the same subject, to this effect: "In a private memorandum left by the late Governor of Sinde, there stands recorded against this chief (Ali Morad) an imputation of having, by means of the substitution of a fabricated for a genuine document, appropriated a district which belongs to the British Government. Sir Charles Napier assumes such to have been the case; and, apparently anticipating that still more evidence would be obtained, recommends that, preparatory to the resumption of the district in question, the Commissioner and the officer commanding in Sinde should be present at Sukkur, and the troops in Northern Sinde reinforced." So early as 1847 Sir Charles Napier became cognisant of fraud, and thought it necessary to supply means of punishing it. In consequence of this communication made by the Bombay Government, when Sir George Clark went to Sinde he looked into the case, and became convinced of the serious nature of the charge against Ali Morad. He reported his opinion, and the Government of Bombay, upon the accession of Mr. Pringle as Resident Commissioner in Sinde, desired Mr. Pringle to look into it. Mr. Pringle did look into it—and their Lordships had the testimony of the noble Earl himself as to his high character—Mr. Pringle reported to the Government of Bombay that he had no doubt of the guilt of Ali Morad. But the Governor of Bombay, exercising, as he thought, a wise discretion, wishing to give that individual a better chance of escape than might be afforded by the decision of only one person—that one person, to a certain degree, prejudiced against him, being Commissioner of Sinde—the Go 253 vernment of Bombay ordered that a Commission should be appointed. A Commission was appointed, consisting of Mr. Pringle, Major Jacob, and Major Laing. The noble Earl objected to the appointment of soldiers on that Commission. But it was not the first time civil jurisdiction had been entrusted to military men; and in our time the Nuwab of Kurnore was deposed by a Commission headed by a military man, Major Pottle. In this case especially there was no ground for complaint. Major Jacob was an officer distinguished, not merely for gallantry in the field, but by the ability with which he had administered the frontier of Sinde under very difficult circumstances. The Commission held its sittings. Nothing could be fairer than the way in which the proceedings were conducted. Ali Morad was present himself, and examined the witnesses adduced in support of the charges, and was able, if he liked, to call any witnesses on his own part. It was an open inquiry. There was no concealment. He had never heard the least complaint of the mode in which the inquiry was conducted. The decision of the Commission was adverse to Ali Morad. They considered, as he was sure their Lordships would consider if they ever saw their report, that the fraud with respect to the treaty of Nownahur, was judicially proven. They did not think it necessary to pronounce judgment on any other charges; but thought it sufficient to pronounce their verdict upon the first charge, namely, the forgery of the treaty of Nownahur, and on that the verdict was decidedly against Ali Morad. It was sent to the Governor of Bombay; the Governor of Bombay sent it to the Governor General. The noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) said that certain prejudices in the Bombay service made it probable that this man could not have a fair trial from Bombay servants. He (Lord Broughton) entirely dissented from that opinion. But the report of the Commission, with all the papers appended to it, was sent to the Governor General. The Governor General examined the whole of the evidence, and returned the report, with his opinion, to the Governor of Bombay; and the united reports of the Indian Government and the Governor of Bombay, with that of the Commission and the evidence attached, were sent home to the authorities in England. The home authorities also had no doubt of the propriety of the decision in every particular. There was no difference of opinion in India, 254 nor had he heard of any difference of opinion even in England as to the offence being proved. There was a difference of opinion as to the punishment. Some were for more, some for less. Some were for depriving Ali Morad of every thing he had, and he had seen it hinted, that "the offender ought to be put to death." "It is lucky for him," says an Indian newspaper, "that he lives in the year 1852, when our power is irresistible, and we can afford to be merciful. In the time of Clive and Hastings, he would probably have been hanged for the forgery and cheat of which he has been guilty." He (Lord Broughton) did not believe that if the then Governor General of India (the Earl of Ellenborough) had been cognisant, as he now was, of the misdeeds of Ali Morad, that the war would have taken place. He did not wish to open the question; and he felt as confident as of his own existence, that had that noble Earl known as much then as he knew now of Ali Morad, the conquest of Sinde would not have taken place—certainly not under the circumstances under which it had taken place. This man had been the cause of the shedding of a great deal of blood—he had been guilty of one of the basest of crimes—of defrauding one of his nearest relatives, and of betraying the cause of his own countrymen; and, more than that, though it was not a crime of so deep a stain, of cheating the very Power and the very persons who had raised him to his station, placed him on his ill-gotten throne, and maintained him there. He did not know how there could be blacker guilt, or how there could possibly be a greater combination of offences. He begged noble Lords to observe, that had the Indian Government only taken possession of that of which Ali Morad had fraudulently deprived them, it would only be restitution, and not punishment. The Indian Government had taken from him the two properties which he ought never to have had—that which he had fraudulently possessed himself of, and that which he had obtained by intercepting the messenger and suppressing the agreements with his brother. The noble Earl would have acted in the same manner as the present Government of India, had he been cognisant at the time of the real circumstances of the case, and of the true character of Ali Morad. Neither was there any injustice in depriving him of the turban. He had not obtained that honour fairly. By a gross injustice he had made his 255 brother abdicate in his favour, and it could not therefore be charged against the Government that they acted with harshness or with cruelty. Ali Morad was neither fit to be entrusted with a real sovereignty, nor invested with one which was merely nominal; the first would be disastrous, the second would be disgraceful to the British Government, which had innocently been made the instrument by which his frauds had been accomplished. The whole case having been referred to him (Lord Broughton), he thought that the home authorities might be contented with taking a middle course between the extreme opinions which had been given as to the degree of punishment which ought to be inflicted on Ali Morad. Some were in favour of leaving him with a great deal less than he now possessed; some were for giving him somewhat more. He (Lord Broughton) left it to the Indian Government to say whether, upon a reconsideration of the whole case, they thought that he was entitled to something more than his patrimonial possession. The Marquess of Dalhousie reported that he had considered the whole case, and that he thought the full penalty recommended by the Directors and the Board of Control ought to be inflicted. He need not tell their Lordships that what the Government had recommended to be done was done. A force was assembled, but was not employed. Ali Morad submitted at once. Ali Morad was still left a great landowner. He was now in possession of everything which fairly belonged to him. He had been deprived of his position as head of the family through his own misconduct; and he had, therefore, no reason to complain. Every inquiry which could be made had been instituted. No doubt existed as to his guilt; but he had a full, open, and fair trial. He (Lord Broughton) agreed with the noble Earl, that it was of the utmost consequence in India that there should not be even suspicion of injustice on the part of the British Government; but in conclusion he would take the liberty of adding, that in dealing with such transactions as these, and in canvassing the acts of great public functionaries at a vast distance from home, entrusted with great powers and a wide discretion, also loaded with large responsibilities, we should he very kind to their virtues, and a little blind to their imperfections. Impressed with this conviction, while he had filled the office of President of the Board of Control, he thought it was not a wise or a good thing 256 for the public interest that the conduct of these great functionaries abroad should be subject to the same severity of criticism as that of politicians at home; he had accordingly used whatever little influence he possessed with his party, that the conduct of the noble Earl himself might not he too narrowly scanned, nor any trifling indiscretion of act or word be visited with censure. He hoped their Lordships would excuse the unreasonable length at which he had dealt with those transactions; and he would only add that he trusted the late Government, the Court of Directors, and the Indian Government, would he considered absolved of all blame in those transactions.
§ The EARL of ELLENBOROUGH
said, that had he required any evidence of the total want of equity, the total want of judicial character, which characterised all these proceedings, he would have found it in the speech of the noble Baron (Lord Broughton). The only thing before the Commission was the accusation of forgery; that was the only thing they were to inquire into. Yet they entered upon many others, and upon their finding, Ali Morad was deprived of his territory. The noble Baron touched very lightly upon the accusation of forgery, and went into the alleged offences committed in 1842, and the subsequent events consequent upon the war in Sinde, and justified the severity of the punishment, not by the forgery, but by all those transactions in which it was assumed that Ali Morad had been equally guilty. But Ali Morad was not upon his trial for these things—he was on his trial for forgery; it was unfair to try a man for one thing, and to punish him for another. The noble Baron said that if he (the Earl of Ellenborough) had been aware of all these transactions when he was in power, he would have acted similarly, and would not have considered the punishment severe; but he begged to tell the noble Baron that he was mistaken. If he (the Earl of Ellenborough) had thought that Ali Morad was guilty of those other offences, he would have distinctly stated that opinion, and have tried him for them, as well as for the forgery, if he had tried him at all; but he would not have taken advantage of one offence to punish him for another. But could he have proceeded as the Commission had proceeded—as the noble Baron had proceeded—to punish him (Ali Morad) as he had been punished? No; he could not bring a claim against him for certain property, and then 257 obtain judgment not only for that but for other property to which he had no claim. It was as though he had brought an action against a man to recover a property in Cambridgeshire, on the ground that it was improperly obtained, and the Court had not only given the property in Cambridgeshire but also property in Lincolnshire, to which there was no claim made. He would not have first proceeded against Ali Morad as an independent prince, and then have punished him as a subject—he would, however, have marked his sense of the crime of forgery, the basest of which a prince could be guilty. With the most perfect confidence he would have laid the whole case before the Princes of India; he would have gone to every Durbar and asked its opinion as to the nature of the punishment that ought to be inflicted on one of their own fraternity; and he had no doubt that the result would have been a unanimous decree for the degradation of one who had so disgraced his position. But the Princes of India, while they degraded the Sovereign, would not have extinguished the Raj. It would be impossible for him to follow the noble Baron through all the topics upon which he had touched. There could not be a doubt that the impression on the mind of Sir Charles Napier was, that Ali Morad had forged the documents; but Sir Charles Napier never could obtain the proof. When Sheik Ali Houssein wanted to obtain letters of introduction to Lahore, he went to Sir Charles Napier to obtain them. "Give me first," said Sir Charles, "that leaf which you possess." Sheik Ali Houssein promised the leaf, but he never brought it; and when Sir Charles was departing, he left letters of introduction to the Resident, which were to be exchanged with the Sheik for the important leaf which would have established the guilt of Ali Morad. But the political fidelity of this prince to the British Government was unquestioned. His troops and all the resources of his territory were ever at our entire command. There never was the smallest doubt of his political fidelity; and in a country like India, as well as in any other country, that was a matter of no small importance—in fact, was a thing most valuable.
§ LORD BROUGHTON
said, he had been forced to state the circumstances alluded to by the praises the noble Earl had bestowed on Ali Morad's character, and on his good faith and fidelity. He had mentioned these facts that their Lordships 258 might learn the real character of the man.
§ The EARL of ELLENBOROUGH
replied, that the praise he gave Ali Morad was this, that he had always been faithful to our Government; and every one conversant with India must be aware that political fidelity was peculiarly valuable in India.
§ The EARL of DERBY
said, that the discussion which had taken place fully confirmed the statement of the noble Earl, that the meanest of Her Majesty's subjects, as well as the highest, and in however remote a part of Her Majesty's dominions, need not fear that they would suffer any prejudice with their Lordships from any charge that might be brought against them, and that their Lordships would never be deaf to any complaints or to any demands for justice which might be addressed to them; and it would be well for all those who might appeal to their Lordships' justice if they found an advocate so distinguished for ability and sincerity as the noble Earl; but he must add, that when unfounded complaints were made against those who acted under authority in a remote part of Her Majesty's dominions, or when persons were attacked in their absence, he trusted there never would be wanting in that House those who would ably vindicate those absent servants of the Crown with the same power and ability as had been exhibited on the present occasion by the noble Baron (Lord Broughton), after whose statement he (the Earl of Derby) felt it unnecessary to trespass on their Lordships' time, or to add anything to the ample and satisfactory vindication he had given of the course pursued by the Government of which the noble Baron was a Member; and he only rose to say, that assuming the guilt of Ali Morad, of which he had not the shadow of a doubt, notwithstanding what had been said by the noble Earl—
§ The EARL of DERBY
He should feel himself ashamed to hold the position in which he at present stood, if he were not prepared to take the share of the responsibility which belonged to his Government, because the transaction had taken place under the auspices of a previous Government. Assuming, then, the indubitability of the fact of Ali Morad's guilt, he considered the proceedings of the Governor General and of the Court of Directors had been characterised by strict equity and by 259 moderation in the character of the penalty. The noble Earl said that they could not treat a person at the same time as an independent prince and as a subject, who might be tried in their own courts; and the noble Earl then proceeded to argue the case as if they had tried the matter in the courts according to the forms of justice applicable to trying an indictment, and as if legal punishment had been inflicted by the courts. But that was not the course which had been attempted by the Government. They acknowledged the position of Ali Morad as a prince, and they had a perfect right to deal with him on the evidence in their possession, as in a case between the East Indian Government and an independent prince, against whom they deemed they had cause not of complaint only, but cause of offence on the ground of fraud committed against the Indian Government by a prince under their protection. He would go further by saying, that the misinformation which had been communicated by him to the British Government had caused the loss of a vast amount of blood and treasure in the wars which had been fomented and encouraged by that misinformation. The Indian Government might have declared hostility against Ali Morad at once, and they might have swept him from his territory, as an act of retaliation; and that specific course, if he was not misinformed, was recommended by Mr. Pringle himself, who having examined into the facts, stated that in his judgment there was quite sufficient evidence for them to proceed at once, without further investigation, upon their own knowledge of the facts, to take ample vengeance upon one who had defrauded the British Government; and it was solely with a view to avoid the least possible misconception of the merits of the case that that course was not taken. It was not for the British Government to refer to the native durbars and native princes, to ask what course the British Government should pursue. The supplementary inquiry took place in order that there might be evidence patent to the whole world that they proceeded on indisputable facts. The proceeding, then, in the manner which had been adopted, although undoubtedly not according to the forms of law, will afford no parallel to the case of properties in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, as put by the noble Earl; but by investigating the state of facts, and furnishing evidence to be submitted to the Governal General, the course pursued by the Indian Govern- 260 ment was neither harsh nor unjust, but one of extraordinary forbearance towards a person who had placed himself in the position of AH Morad—a position which would have justified acts of open and immediate hostility. The noble Earl complained of the verdict of the court not being upon the issue submitted to it, and said that it had sentenced him to a loss of property for an offence which was not submitted to its consideration. The court was called upon to examine evidence and declare by their verdict whether Ali Morad was guilty or not guilty of a particular charge of forgery, and upon that verdict judgment was substantially to pass, the sentence to be imposed, not by the Judge of that court, but by an independent authority, the Governor General in council. It turned out, in the course of the inquiry into the specific charge of forgery, that not only was the forgery committed in that particular case shown, clearly and indisputably to be the means by which he had obtained illegal possession of a large portion of territory, but it turned out also that he had become possessed of another large portion of territory—not, indeed, by forgery, but by fraud equivalent to forgery, by which he made the British Government the unwitting agent of his crime. The noble Baron had explained the circumstances under which the cession of the turban had taken place. That cession had been made in accordance with the legal forms binding upon Mahomedans, and it was in itself good; but there was another instrument also in which equivalents for the cession were set forth, containing various conditions and reservations of rights of territory ceded with the turban, and reservations of personal allowances—all which conditions Ali Morad, who was now represented as such a blameless character, had suppressed by the interception of the messengers; and, without giving any of those equivalents named in the instrument, he took possession of the turban. His noble Friend complained now that, when those facts came to the knowledge of the British Government, that part of the possessions of which Ali Morad was deprived was that very turban which he had thus obtained by fraud. His noble. Friend said that he had seen in some newspapers estimates of the revenue of the property forfeited. He (the Earl of Derby) had been unable to find any such estimates in the official papers; and he mentioned the matter to show that it was impossible for the Government, without 261 reference to India, to furnish that portion of the papers moved for by the noble Earl. But he dissented altogether from the doctrine of his noble Friend, that the Government were not entitled to call upon Ali Morad to restore the lands he had unjustly obtained. The noble Earl thought that they ought to have imposed on him a pecuniary fine; but if the noble Earl admitted the right to impose on him a pecuniary fine, he at once gave up the question of his independence. As to the greater or less amount of the fine, it was not a matter on which he would express an opinion, as he had not the facts before him; but that the Indian Government was justified in demanding restitution and enforcing a fine by way of penalty, whether of money or rights of property was immaterial, was a point which was conceded by the very argument of the noble Earl. But what punishment could be more appropriate and equitable than that Ali Morad, having obtained the turban and precedence in the principality by gross fraud and forgery, the forfeiture of the turban thus disgraced, by having been obtained by such means, should be a portion of the penalty imposed on him? After all, he was left an independent landed proprietor after this forfeiture, and no one sought to take from him any portion of his patrimonial territory which had been accorded to him originally by the fourfold division. They proposed to take from him the land which he had wrongfully obtained; also that he should forfeit the turban, which he had fraudulently and disgracefully taken; and they left him in possession of his patrimonial property and of such respect as he could command amongst the natives, to whom the whole course of his conduct was known. He should desire to move, as an addition to his noble Friend's Motion, without which the return would be imperfect, for a copy of the report of the Commission, and of the evidence taken before it, by which the fraud was substantiated, in order that it might not go forth to the public at large that the Indian Government had done these things in a corner, or that they asked any concealment to be thrown over these acts, or sought to defeat the judgment of public opinion, either here or in India. On the part of the Government, he had to say that he had no objection to the production of the papers. He therefore moved to add the report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the conduct of Ali Morad.
§ EARL GREY
said, he hoped Her Majesty's Government would not omit, after what had taken place with reference to this matter, to look back and consider the bearing of this case upon prior transactions. He had heard a considerable time ago, when the transactions in Sinde took place, that much doubt was expressed by persons qualified to give a sound opinion as to the justice of the war by which the Ameers of Scinde were deposed, and of the measures which were taken against them. Officers of the highest character—Colonel Outram and Sir Henry Pottinger, both expressed an unhesitating opinion that justice had not been done to those unfortunate Princes; and they now heard from his noble Friend opposite, and from the noble Lord, that Ali Morad was convicted of forgery and the basest intrigues; and that if it were not for his pernicious acts those Princes would not have taken the steps which had brought the British Government down upon them, and that but for his malpractices those unhappy Princes would not have been engaged in those hostilities. If that were really the correct view of the case—if it was the opinion of the late President of the Board of Control, and of Her Majesty's present Government, that the conduct of Ali Morad had been really such as had been described—it was incumbent on the East India Company and the Government to consider the position of the Ameers of Sinde, who were languishing in confinement at a distance from their own country, and were suffering most cruelly from those transactions. He was quite aware that in those cases injustice once perpetrated could not always be reversed, however anxious they might be to do so, and that it was not like transactions between private individuals—for political reasons might render it imposible to render full reparation to those Princes. But if Ali Morad was such a character as had been described, it was he that was to blame for the transactions in Sinde. It was incumbent on the authorities to investigate the matter, and see what could be done in it.
§ The EARL of DERBY
was anxious to say one word more before their Lordships agreed to the Resolution. In his opinion the noble Earl opposite (Earl Grey) had gone much further than he (the Earl of Derby) could be expected to go with him, when he said that in consequence of the discovery of the proceedings and intrigues of Ali Morad, the Ameers of Sinde might now be considered as persons not only 263 blameless, but as persons to whom reparation was due. In that he could not certainly concur with the noble Earl. But this he would say, that the discovery of the intrigues of Ali Morad did put the conduct of the Ameers in a more favourable position than it appeared before; and he would go further, and say, that he had now the satisfaction of informing the noble Earl that so strong was that conviction entertained by the Court of Directors, that instructions had already been sent out for the purpose of reconsidering the position of the Ameers—not with the view of restoring to them their territorial possessions, but with the view of rendering their position more favourable than it was at present. So far as they had acted with the advice and under the influence of Ali Morad, he granted they had a right to consideration; still he could not exempt them from blame altogether, and far less could he regard them as persons who were entitled to any reparation.
§ EARL GREY
explained. Ail he had said was—repeating correctly, he believed, what his noble Friend had stated—that his noble Friend's belief was, that but for the pernicious influence of this man, Ali Morad, no war would have taken place at the time, and that the Ameers were driven to adopt those steps which brought upon them the British Army by that man's advice; and he thought he was not far wrong when he thus quoted his noble Friend's statement. Whether or not they were entirely free from blame, he was quite unable to express an opinion; certainly, considerable doubt had been expressed by persons of the highest authority with regard to the justice of the treatment they had received. That doubt had, of late, been greatly increased, and he thought it was necessary that their case should be reconsidered. He was glad to find, therefore, from the noble Earl, that orders to that effect had been given, and he could only add that he should deeply regret if, by any want of caution on the part of the British authorities, they had allowed themselves for so long a period to be made the instruments of a person of the character ascribed to this Ali Morad.
After a few words from Lord Colchester, which were not heard,
§ The EARL of ELLENBOROUGH
said, that the noble Earl had entirely mistaken the nature of the offence for which the Ameers of Sinde had been deposed. In consequence of presuming, as the Government of India did, that hostilities were 264 meditated on the part, of the Ameers of Sinde, certain treaties were presented to the Ameers, and to these treaties they agreed. They signed the treaties on one day, and the next they attacked a British detachment with 10,000 men; in fact, at the time they were agreeing to the treaties, they were collecting troops in front and rear of the English forces, which were only saved from destruction by the genius, decision, and gallantry of Sir Charles Napier. The Ameers were condemned not for any conduct of theirs preceding the treaty, but for the treachery which preceded, and the culpability which accompanied the battle of Meanee.
Motion agreed to, with the additional paper suggested by the Earl of Derby, namely:—
A Copy of the Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Conduct of Ali Morad.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.