COUNCIL OF REGENCY, To govern the State of the Punjab during the minority of Mahārājā Duleep Siṅgh, two successive councils of regency were set up at Lahore - the first functioning from 1844-46 and the second from 1846-49. After the assassination of Mahārājā Sher Siṅgh on 15 September 1843, Rājā Hīrā Siṅgh had won over the Khālsā army and established himself in the office of prime minister with the minor Duleep Siṅgh as the new sovereign. But his rule was short-lived, and he, along with his favourite and deputy, Paṇḍit Jallā, was killed by the Army on 21 December 1844. Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur, who had an active hand in overthrowing Hīrā Siṅgh, now cast off her veil and assumed full powers as regent in the name of her minor son, Duleep Siṅgh. To run the administration, she constituted a Council of Regency on 22 December 1844, composed of Jawāhar Siṅgh, Rājā Lāl Siṅgh, Bhāī Rām Siṅgh, Bakhshī Bhagat Rām, Dīwān Dīnā Nāth, Atar Siṅgh Kāliāṅvālā, Shām Siṅgh Aṭārīvālā, General Mahtāb Siṅgh Majīṭhīā, General Mevā Siṅgh Majīṭhīā and General Lāl Siṅgh Morāṅvālā. The composition of this Council represented a combination of elder statesmen of the Darbār and army generals. Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur acted with determination and courage in transacting public business. The Council nullified the enhanced taxes and burdens imposed by Rājā Hīrā Siṅgh, restored to the feudatory sardārs jāgīrs and fiefs resumed by him and enhanced the pay of the soldiery. It also quelled the revolts of Kaṅvar Kashmīrā Siṅgh and Kaṅvar Pashaurā Siṅgh and sent a force 35, 000 strong to Jammū to crush the rebellious activities of Rājā Gulāb Siṅgh, who was brought to Lahore and arraigned on a charge of treachery against his sovereign.
After the first Anglo-Sikh war, under article 5 of the Agreement concluded between the British government and the Lahore Darbār at Bharovāl (16 December 1846), Henry Lawrence was appointed resident with "full authority to direct and control all matters in every department of the State" and a new eight-member Council of Regency was constituted, the members being Rājā Tej Siṅgh, Sher Siṅgh Aṭārīvālā, Dīwān Dīnā Nāth, Faqīr Nūr ud-Dīn, Raṇjodh Siṅgh Majīṭhīā, Bhāī Nidhān Siṅgh, Atar Siṅgh Kāliāṅvālā and Shamsher Siṅgh Sandhāṅvālīā. The Treaty of Bharovāl had changed the entire complexion of the Council of Regency. Its members could only hold office during the pleasure of the British resident. Mahārāṇī Jind Kaur was pensioned off, and the British government became the guardian of the minor Mahārājā of the Punjab. A British garrison was stationed at Lahore, and the entire civil and military administration of the country was vested in the British resident. The Council of Regency ceased to exist as a sovereign political body. It was more an instrument for subserving British interests as it did, for instance, in acquiescing in the removal of the Mahārāṇī from the capital in August 1847 and her final expulsion from the Punjab in June 1848; in forcing Dīwān Mūl Rāj to resign the governorship of Multān in December 1847; and in meekly accepting the blame of the Multān revolt under Resident Frederick Currie's pressure. In directing the course of events leading to the second Anglo-Sikh war, the Council of Regency had no voice at all. None of its members spoke to contradict British accusations that the whole Sikh nation was involved in a general resurrection to re-establish the Khālsā Rāj. The Council's last dismal act was the signing on behalf of the minor sovereign the Instrument of deposition and annexation of the Punjab to the British empire on 29 March 1849, which spelt the end of the dynasty of Raṇjīt Siṅgh.
B. J. Hasrat