The last king from the Imperial House of Taimur, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, was around 157 years ago facing a trial in the Red Fort.
He was carried in a palanguin, heavily guarded by 60th Rifles, to the military court under the recommendations of the European Military Commission on 27 of Jan, 1858. The court was assembled in the private hall of audience ( Diwan e khas) at 11am.
The old man of 82 years was made to stand for about one and a half hour as a prisoner outside his own Diwan e khas. He was given an undignified seat beat the President.
Charges against him-
1. Being a pensioner of the British govt in India, he encouraged, avoided and abetted natives in the crime of mutiny and rebellion against the state.
2. Aided, encouraged Mirza Mughal, his own son, and other residents of north west provinces of India, also subjects if the said British govt, to rebel and wage war against the state.
3. Being a subject odd the British govt of India, he did not regarded the duty of allegiance and declared himself the reigning king and sovereign of India and there traitorously seize and take unlawful possession of the city of Delhi.
4. He did caused or become accessory to the murder of 49 persons chiefly women, children of European descent. He also issued orders to different native rulers having local authority on India to slay and murder Christians and English people. These are heinous crimes under Act XVI of 1857 of the Legislative Council of India.
Bahadur shah remained silent when he was asked to defend himself. He only uttered the single word “No” .
He neither pleased his right under the international law as a sovereign not challenged the jurisdiction of the commission that tried him.. He only said that everything that happened was not with his consent, even the signature on various firmans(orders) were obtained under coercion, duress, and without free will.
But there were some records “court diary” which were relied on fitting the trial which proved that the killing of 49 European took place in the Hall of Special Audience. The king delivered them by saying, ” the army may do as they please “,
The trial lasted for two months. At no stage was there any doubt about the verdict. On 29th march, 1858, he was found guilty of all the charges, and subsequently transported to Rangoon.
However, Bahadur shah has been criticised by many writers for accepting the trial. He was not a British subject, therefore there was no justification for the British govt. to try him before the tribunal.
Intact it was the British East India company which had rebelled against the king. Ignoring the international law was another blunder…
Loads of love & respect