In 1947, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed an act that partitioned British India into the two new independent dominions on India and Pakistan. This act is called as Indian Independence Act of 1947.
On 18 July 1947, the act received the assent. Thus, on 15 August 1947, India and Pakistan, including West(modern-day Pakistan) and Eat(modern-day Bangladesh) came into existence.
On 20 February 1947, Clement Attlee, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced that:
- By 30 June 1948, the British Government would grant self-government to British India
- After the date of the final transfer is decided, the future of the Princely States would be decided
Future of the Princely States
Attlee wrote to Mountbatten on 18 March 1947:
“It is, of course, important that the Indian States should adjust their relations with the authorities to whom it is intended to hand over power in British India; but as was explicitly stated by the Cabinet Mission His Majesty’s Government do not intend to hand over their powers and obligations under paramountcy to any successor Government. It is not intended to bring paramountcy as a system to a conclusion earlier than the date of the final transfer of power, but you are authorised, at such time as you think appropriate, to enter into negotiations with individual States for adjusting their relations with the Crown. The princely states would be free from orders and treaties of British Rule in India. They can either join the two dominions or stay separate”
3 June Plan
On 3 June 1947, the British government offered a plan called Mountbatten Plan or 3 June Plan. It included these principles:
- The British Government accepted the principle of the partition of British India
- Successor governments would be given dominion status
- They can make their own constitutions
- The Princely States were given the right to either join Pakistan or India
- Provinces can become a seperate nation other than Pakistan or India
Provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947
The main provisions of the Indian Independence Act were as follows:
- The act provided for the end of the British Rule in India on 15 August 1947 and the establishment of two Dominions- India and Pakistan.
- Both of them were given the right to withdraw from the British Commonwealth.
- The office of the Secretary of State of India was abolished and his functions were transferred to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs.
- Appointment of the Governor-General in each dominions on the advice of the cabinet of the concerned Dominion.
- Governor-General and the Governors of the provinces were expected to act on the advice of the ministers in all matters.
- The British king was to abandon the title of the Emperor of India.
- Appointment of civil service and reservation of seats by the secretary of the state was discontinued.
- All the powers were transferred to Constituent Assemblies of the two Dominions.
- No Act of the British parliament could be extended to any Dominion unless the respective country adopts it as part of its law.
- All the provinces were to be administered in accordance with the provision of the Government of India Act 1935 till a new constitution framed by each dominion.
Read full Act here
There was violence all over British India. Many Muslims from the Dominion of India fled to Pakistan. Hindu and Sikhs from the Dominion of Pakistan fled to India. Many of these migrating people left their property and possessions to avoid violence and flee to their new country.
Repeal of the Indian Independence Act 1947
The Indian Independence Act was finally repealed in Article 395 of the Constitution of India and in Article 221 of the Constitution of Pakistan of 1956.
The act still has an effect in the United Kingdom, although some sections of it have been repealed.
Read about Desai-Liaqat Pact
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