The ‘Prince’ of Arcot can’t be sued

For calling himself the ‘Prince’ of Arcot

A personality, styling himself the “Prince of Arcot” was recently in the news for launching the latest salvo in the game of competitive intolerance. He played a role in getting the police to shut down an exhibition showing the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb’s intolerant policies against his subjects.

It was Aurangzeb who instituted the Nawabdom of ArcoSee updates below. But Mohammed Abdul Ali, an Indian citizen who calls himself a Nawab and has a website that describes him as the present “Prince of Arcot”, is in violation of the Indian constitution.

Part III. Article 18.
Abolition of titles.-
(1) No title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the State.
[Constitution of India]

Mr Ali has violated my right to equality, a fundamental right, and your’s too, if you are an Indian citizen. He was already in violation of Article 18 before he abetted in the violation of Article 19 (freedom of expression). Retaining royal titles, shutting down those he disapproves, Mr Ali is acting as if India was still part of the Mughal empire.

But there is a prima facie case to take the case against the Nawab to the Supreme Court. It has original jurisdiction over violations of fundamental rights.

Third Update:

…Ali is the only royalty in India that’s being recognized by the government that pays for his upkeep and maintenance. [DesPardes]


Second Update: The business of royal titles is unclear. The 1971 amendment abolished privy purses, privileges and titles of princes and their successors. But they continue to use their titles. And the Prince of Arcot is ranks as the equivalent of a minister in the Tamil Nadu cabinet. Now that flies against a lot more than equality. It must be some historical curiosity that has left us with this bizarre situation.

His Highness Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali Azim Jah, the Prince of Arcot, is the only royal in India who was not affected by the abolition of privy purses. In the order of precedence, he enjoys the rank of cabinet minister of the state of Tamil Nadu.

The Nawab hails from a family that traces its lineage back to the second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khatt?b. The title ‘Prince of Arcot’, uniquely using the European style prince, was conferred on his ancestor by the British government in 1870 after the post of Nawab of the Carnatic (a title granted by the Mughal emperor) was abolished. [Wikipedia emphasis added]


The abolition of the privy purses, guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and the elimination of the princely order itself, became the policy of the Congress party. After a year-long battle, this was finally achieved by an amendment to the Constitution at the end of 1971.

Although some parties have attempted to portray the constitutional changes as an abolition of the princely order, this does not appear to be the legal position. The changes merely removed official recognition of the position of “ruler”, as defined by the 1950 Constitution, and enabled the ending of privy-purse payments. The amendments did not touch upon any aspects of the treaties and engagements made during the accession of the princely states, nor did they even address the matter of rights to styles and titles. Since then, there have been a number of decisions and cases of the Supreme Court of India, where the court itself has continued to use the styles and titles enjoyed by the princes, the nobility and members of their families. Some prominent examples are: “Colonel His Highness Sawai Tej Singhji, Maharaja of Alwar vs. The Union of India & Anr.” (1978), “H.H. Sir Rama Varma vs. C.I.T.” (1994), “The Commissioner of Income-Tax, Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal vs. H.H. Maharani Usha Devi” (1998), “Commissioner of Wealth Tax vs. Prince Muffakham Jah Bahadur Chamli Jan” (2000), “Her Highness Maharani Shantidevi P. Gaikwad vs. Savjibhai Haribhai Patel & Ors.” (2001), “Union of India & Another vs. Raja Mohammed Amir Mohammad Khan” (2005). It is hard to imagine that the highest court in the land would have accepted the use of these titles had they been contrary to law. [link]

Note: The original title of this post was “Why the ‘Prince of Arcot can be sued”. Well, he can’t be sued for calling himself the ‘Prince’. And he certainly won’t be sued for complaining about the Aurangzeb show.

16 thoughts on “The ‘Prince’ of Arcot can’t be sued”

  1. Article 18 bars the State from conferring titles on the citizens. What has that got to do with an individual conferring a title on oneself?

  2. >>And he certainly won’t be sued for complaining about the Aurangzeb show.
    Doesn’t this sum up the whole thing?

  3. I know lot of people claim to be some kind of Nawab of Hyderabad (sons/relatives what ever). My neighbour was one of the daughters (off of many wifes) of the last official Nawab of Hyderabad. As far I know she was getting money from state (not sure if it was from GoAP or GOI) but she lived alone with her daughter in beautiful house with nice old royal furniture. Only activity in the house involving visitors was self-flagellation activity during Moharam. She finally became friendly when she was really old…

    I knew of Indira’s law at the peak of her socialism nightmare. Although I agree with her on canceling Nawabs/Maharajas perpetual rent payments, but not stealing their and others property…Recently GOI took over Nawab of Hyderabad’s stunning jewelery collection – including rare diamonds and pearls.

    In any case, I am not at all surprised to see a Nawab of Arcot. Surprising he is an automatic minister in a state. But he still doesn’t have any right to shut a public exhibit – that was done and along with destruction of private art collection by Karuna’s IPS lapdogs. The exhibitors should sue the state and police force for destruction of property and seek reimbursement. At least then the story won’t be covered by the media….

  4. Psuedos cannot handle “Prince of Arcot”. So, the level- foot soldiers of Hindutva, will handle him. Make no mistake about it.

    The original sin was u-turn on Shahbanu. Congress surrendered to Muslim thugger, street violence. Now, Hindus are emulating the same.

    I am very happy at this prince affairs. You will hardly find out anything which exposes jehad pampering psuedo secularism.

  5. TAslima issue was even more revealing.

    Ban on her book (by CPIM for Muslim Vote) was thrown out by the Calcutta High Court. Instead of appealing to Supreme Court, Muslim groups started worst rioting at Calcutta street after ‘great calcutta massacre’ of 1946, and cpim kept mum. Rather CPIM supported those who rioted.

    WHY THEY DID NOT APPROACH THE SUPREME COURT? The same people would demand, people must respect SC’s verdict on (say) Parzania….

    When psuedos surrender to jehadis and missionaries on Taslima, Da Vinci Code, they have no rights to speak on Parzania, MF Hussian.

    Its their own creation. And they are wholly exposed today.

  6. Wonder why this half info. Sometime back when I was browsing on the net for the Arcot info, i got it easily. But with the rating of this webpage going up the original webpage which had a jpeg copy of the info is hard to find!!!!!!!!!!! I am mad actually. Mad with you too and very angry with you. You now google, put an rti , do something and get me the info on why this guy is prince of arcot and stuff. Prior to this page it was so easy for me to get to the page where there was a jpeg image of the original document on this guy. But as far as my info goes, this fellow must be the last one…after than there can be no Princes in this house and no perks…..

  7. This isn’t as complicated as it is being made out to be. First of all, as it has been previously stated, the title “Prince of Arcot” was conveyed upon the claimants ancestor by the authority of Her Majesty Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who was also at the time (or would soon be) titled Empress of India. Since it was created under British law and issued with letters patent by the Queen, the title “Prince of Arcot” is not subject to Indian jurisdiction. As constitutionally stated, India can (and has) stop acknowledging titles originating from former sovereign countries that now make up India as it is the successor state to those countries having absorbed their respective territories into a single national political state. The Arcot title is British and therefor, India, and all other nations of the world who follow diplomatic protocol, should continue to address the title holder as “His Highness the Prince of Arcot” as “Highness” is the style attributed to the title in the letters patent at the time of creation. Now, as for why India continues to provide a financial and/or residential allowance to the Prince and his family is a curious situation. What, after all, qualifies him for such benefits that are not equally deserved by other titular royal families.

    I would also like to remark that simply the deposition or abolition of a monarchy (at any level, Kingdom, Grand Duchy, Duchy, Principality, etc.) does not mean that the families are any less “royal.” My personal opinion on the matter is that, a country cannot take away something they did not give. So long as descendants of a dynasty continue to follow guidelines of the “House Laws” in effect at the time the family ceased to be sovereign, those individuals should continue to enjoy the title and style of their titular dignity. A prime example is the mediatization of the German states when after 1815 hundreds of small independent states were annexed, with the encouragement of Napoleon, by other larger monarchies. The counties who lost their sovereignty were considered mediatized, retained their titles and styles, as did their descendants, and in some cases were allowed to exercise nominal rule over their former lands oh behalf of the King (or whoever) had annexed their lands. These mediatized families were still considered to be dynastic for purposes of marriage into still ruling families.

    In the United States, citizens are not allowed to accept a noble title or dignity from a foreign nation without consent of Congress, which aside from an occasional knighthood, or civilian order, they would not likely approve (and even requires people applying for citizship to declare they do not now, or never have held such a title) However, that does not mean that American’s do acquire titles, or have them by right of birth. For example, Grace Kelly became The Princess of Monaco by marriage and Lisa Najeeb Halaby, born an American citizen, became Queen Noor of Jordan. In both cases it is unclear if either woman was forced to renounce her native United States citizenship upon marriage and acquiring a title. Additionally, many people have the right to a title by birth and are not aware. I personally learned through genealogy research, that in the 13th century my ancestor was created “Count of the Byzantine Empire” which was to be enjoyed by his descendants in both male and female lines in perpetuity (forever). The title was subsequently confirmed by successive Byzantine Emperors and even the Spanish Monarchy as recently as the mid/late 1800s. I have the right to the title and am technically not breaking any American laws since I didn’t “accept” a title, presumably defined as a newly created one. The United States may choose not to address me as a count, but that doesn’t mean I am not one under the authority that created it and for that matter in the opinion of Spain (among other countries who acknowledge it). If I were to acquire dual-citizenship with Spain, then the U.S. really wouldn’t have a choice but to allow me to use the title as I could theoretically provide my Spanish passport for all identification purposes. Additionally, the United States does officially acknowledge the titles of the Hawaiian royal family, perhaps that is because the government is all to aware that the annexation of the “State of Hawaii” was unlawful, both under U.S laws and international law, therefor making the Kingdom of Hawai’i illegally occupied. Interesting note that in Hawaii, when land deeds are transferred, it is STILL done so by authority of the King of Hawai’i and NOT the sub-national state level or clerk of court, etc. I should clarify that at one point they did not list the king as the authority on transfers but it was challenged in the state level court and judgment was made that it must lawfully be done by power of the “king.”

  8. The Prince of Arcot may continue to use his title as it is not under the jurisdiction of India and NEVER was. The title was bestowed upon ancestor of the current Prince of Arcot by the British government and Queen Victoria during her reign. The title and style was never issued by authority or jurisdiction of the Empire of India (ruled by the Queen-Empress Victoria) but rather by that of Her Majesty in right as the Soverign of Britain (or more correctly the United Kingdom). Therefor, India, as a republic, and successor state of the former empire cannot take a title away from someone that it did not grant. However, one would assume the Indian government could refuse its use on passports and legal documents, etc. On that note, the British sovereign, currently Elizabeth II, could presumably deprive the Prince of Arcot of this dignity if so desired or merited. As for why India has continued to support the prince is better left to one more familiar with the constitution.

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