The Commissioner in India (Merrell) to the Secretary of State

No. 83

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 265 dated February 1, 1945, directing the Mission to make energetic representations regarding the refusal of the Punjab Government to correspond directly with the American Consulate at Karachi and to report that after looking into the matter, Mr. Charles Duke, then Joint Secretary to the Government of India in the External Affairs [Page 259]Department, informed me that, whereas a circular instruction sent to the provincial governments in March 1938, which doubtless gave rise to the misunderstanding, did preclude direct correspondence between consulates and provincial governments other than those in which the consular offices are located, a superseding circular letter of July 1938 authorized direct correspondence between consular officers and all provincial governments in British India within their consular districts, without reference to the Central Government, on all matters except those involving broad policy.

Since then there has been no change in the Government of India’s attitude and any provincial governments which have declined to correspond directly had done so in error. Mr. Duke assured me that a fresh circular has been sent to the provincial governments clarifying the authorization for direct correspondence.

Mr. Duke explained that, on account of the treaty relations between the British Government and the Indian native states by virtue of which all foreign relations between the latter and other countries are placed in the hands of the British, this authorization could not extend to correspondence with the governments of the Indian states. He said, however, that he saw no reason why entirely routine correspondence with the Indian states, such as the Consulate at Madras obtaining Mysore publications which are sent automatically and the newspapers, could not be entered into directly. He implied that it might be better for consular officers in their discretion to attempt to correspond directly on routine matters without first inquiring as to the propriety of such action in view of the fact that, if the matter were presented formally to the Political Department, the latter would feel obliged on account of the rules and regulations to disapprove.

Respectfully yours,

George R. Merrell