247. Telegram 8298 From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1 2


  • Sikkim Assembly Adopts Constitution


  • New Delhi 5459 of May 10, 1973

1. Indian wire services report from Gangtok that the Sikkim Assembly adopted June 20 a 34-clause quote Government of Sikkim bill end quote. This new quote constitution end quote was prepared by an eminent Indian jurist, G.R. Rajagopaul, at the quote request end quote of the Chogyal and the Sikkimese Assembley.

2. The salient features of the constitution reported in the press are provision for a four-year assembly which can discuss and pass bills on internal social and economic matters. The Indian chief executive is to be the President and Speaker of the Assembly. He will also advise on the appointment of a Chief Minister and Ministers (the Executive Council) who will be responsible to the Assembly. The Chogyal’s titular powers are also spelled out in the new constitution which grants him the right to delay the adoption of bills by withholding assent, but enables the assembly to pass bills over his quote veto end quote by a simple majority. (Copy pouched to NEA/INS).

3. The wire services say the Assembly endorsed the constitution quote amidst mounting tension end quote caused by efforts of the Chogyal and his supporters to block passage of bill. There was a fracas outside the Assembly building and the central reserve police were called out. The Chogyal had agreed during a recent visit to Delhi to support the constitution but had gove back on this assurance.

4. Comment: So far, we have only the Indian handout version of what took place in Gangtok. It is clear to us, however, that the Chogyal did not want this constitution and that he delayed and resisted its adoption as long as possible. The new document basically reaffirms and elaborates the powers and functions of the Assembly and Council and the Indian chief executive provided for in the May 8, 1973, agreement between the GOI, the Chogyal, and the Sikkimese political parties (reftel). It is thus an endorsement by elected representatives in Sikkim of the extremely limited, titular role of the Chogyal and of the Indian Government’s extensive authority with regard to internal administration. India’s exclusive responsibilities for Sikkim’s defense, communications and foreign affairs are set forth in the 1950 treaty.

5. It remains to be seen how the Chogyal will accommodate himself to his now permanent position of virtual impotence (which radicals within the Sikkim assembly will almost certainly try to intensify and emphasize in the future). His options are few: to abdicate, to leave the country and spend most of his time elsewhere while not formally abdicating, to play out his role of quote constitutional monarch end quote in good faith, or to attempt to organize clandestine opposition from among loyal members of the Lepcha or Bhutia community. At this point, prospects for the long-term survival of the royal house do not look good.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Confidential. It was repeated to Katmandu, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras.
  2. The Embassy reported that over the Chogyal’s objections the Sikkim Assembly had passed a constitution amid civil unrest.