|Long title||An Act to make provision for the setting up in India of two independent dominion states, to substitute other provisions for certain provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, which apply outside those dominions, and to provide for other matters consequential on or connected with the setting up of those Dominions.|
|Citation||10 & 11 Geo. 6, c. 30|
|Royal assent||July 18, 1947|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
The 1947 Indian Independence Act (1947 c. 30 (10 & 11. Geo. 6.)) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that partitioned British India into the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan. The Act received the royal assent on July 18, 1947, and thus India and Pakistan, comprising West (modern day Pakistan) and East (modern day Bangladesh) regions, came into being on August 15.[a]
The legislature representatives of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, and the Sikh community came to an agreement with Lord Mountbatten on what has come to be known as the 3 June Plan or Mountbatten Plan. This plan was the last plan for independence.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced on February 20, 1947, that:
- The British Government would grant full self-government to British India by June 3, 1948, at the latest,
- The future of the Princely States would be decided after the date of final transfer is decided.
Future of the Princely States
Attlee wrote to Mountbatten on March 18, 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"
The June 3 Plan
The June 3 plan was also known as the Mountbatten Plan. The British government proposed a plan announced on June 3, 1947, that included these principles:
- Principle of the partition of British India was accepted by the British Government
- Successor governments would be given dominion status
- autonomy and sovereignty to both countries
- can make their own constitution
- Princely States were given the right to either join Pakistan or India
- Provinces can become a separate nation other than Pakistan or India
The Act's most important provisions were:
- division of British India into the two new dominions of India and Pakistan, with effect from August 15, 1947.
- partition of the provinces of Bengal and Punjab between the two new countries.
- establishment of the office of Governor-General in each of the two new countries, as representatives of the Crown.
- conferral of complete legislative authority upon the respective Constituent Assemblies of the two new countries.
- termination of British suzerainty over the princely states, with effect from 15 August 1947, and recognised the right of states to remain independent or accede to either dominion.
- Abolition of the use of the title "Emperor of India" by the British monarch (this was subsequently executed by King George VI by royal proclamation on 22 June 1948).
The Act also made provision for the division of joint property, etc. between the two new countries, including in particular the division of the armed forces.
- Two new dominion states: Two new dominions were to emerge from the Indian empire: Pakistan and India.
- Appointed Date: August 15, 1947, was declared as the appointed date for the partition.
- Pakistan: East Bengal, West Punjab, Sind, and Chief Commissioner’s Province of Baluchistan.
- The fate of North West Frontier Province (now Pakhtunkhwa) was subject to the result of a referendum.
- Bengal & Assam:
- The province of Bengal as constituted under the Government of India Act 1935 ceased to exist.
- In lieu thereof two new provinces were to be constituted, to be known respectively as East Bengal and West Bengal.
- The fate of District Sylhet, in the province of Assam, was to be decided in a referendum.
- The province as constituted under the Government of India Act 1935 ceased to exist.
- Two new provinces were to be constituted, to be known respectively as West Punjab and East Punjab.
- The boundaries of the new provinces were to be determined, whether before or after the appointed date, by the award of a boundary commission to be appointed by the Governor General.
- Constitution for the New Dominions: until the time of making of the new constitution, the new dominions and the provinces thereof were to be governed by the Government of India Act 1935. (Temporary Provisions as to the Government of Each New Dominion).
- The Governors General of the new dominions:
- For each of the new dominion a new Governor-General was to be appointed by the Crown, subject to the law of the legislature of either of the new dominions.
- Same person as Governor General of both dominions: if unless and until provision to the contrary was made by a law of the legislature of either of the new dominions, the same person could be the Governor General of both.
- Powers of Governor General: (Section-9)
- The Governor General was empowered to bring this Act in force.
- Division of territories, powers, duties, rights, assets, liabilities, etc., was the responsibility of Governor General.
- To adopt, amend, Government of India Act 1935, as the Governor-General may consider it necessary.
- power to introduce any change was until 31 March 1948, after that it was open to the constituent assembly to modify or adopt the same Act. (Temporary Provisions as to the Government of Each New Dominion.)
- Governor-General had full powers to give assent to any law.
- Legislation for the new dominions:
- The existing legislative setup was allowed to continue as Constitution making body as well as a legislature. (Temporary Provisions as to the Government of Each New Dominion.)
- The legislature of each dominion was given full powers to make laws for that dominion, including laws having extraterritorial operation.
- No Act of Parliament of UK passed after the appointed date would be extended to the territories of new dominions.
- No law and provision of any law made by the legislature of the new dominions shall be void or inoperative on the ground that it is repugnant to the law of England.
- The Governor-General of each dominion had full powers to give assent in His Majesty’s name to any law of the legislature. [Configuration of Pakistan’s Constitution Assembly (CAP I): 69 members of the central legislature + 10 immigrant members= 79].
- Consequences of setting up of the new dominions:
- His Majesty’s Government lost all the responsibility to the new dominions.
- The suzerainty of His Majesty’s Government over the Indian States lapsed.
- All the treaties or agreements with the Indian States and the tribal areas that were in force at the passing of the act lapsed.
- The title of "Emperor of India" was dropped from the titles of British Crown.
- The office of Secretary of State for India was abolished and the provisions of GOI Act 1935 relating to the appointments to the civil service or civil posts under the crown by the secretary of the state ceased to operate.
- Civil servants: Section 10 provided for the continuance of service of the government servants appointed on or before 15 August 1947 under the Governments of new Dominions with full benefits.
- Armed Forces: Sections 11, 12, and 13 dealt with the future of the Indian armed forces. A Partition Committee was formed on June 7, 1947, with two representatives from each side and the viceroy in the chair, to decide about the division thereof. As soon as the process of partition was to start it was to be replaced by a Partition Council with a similar structure.
- First and Second Schedules:
- First Schedule listed the districts provisionally included in the new province of East Bengal:
- Chittagong Division: Districts of Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Noakhali and Tipperah.
- Dacca Division: Districts of Bakarganj, Dacca, Faridpur, and Mymensingh.
- Presidency Division: Districts of Jessore (except Bangaon Tehsil), and Kustia and Meherpur Tehsils (of Nadia district).
- Rajshahi Division:Districts of Bogra, Dinajpur (except Raiganj and Balurghat Tehsil), Rajshahi, Rangpur and Nawabganj Tehsil (of Malda district).
- Second Schedule listed the districts provisionally included in the new province of West Punjab:
- Lahore Division: Districts of Gujranwala, Lahore (except Patti Tehsil), Sheikhupura, Sialkot and Shakargarh Tehsil (of Gurdaspur district).
- Rawalpindi Division: Districts of Attock, Gujrat, Jehlum, Rawalpindi and Shahpur.
- Multan Division: Districts of Dera Ghazi Khan, Jhang, Lyallpur, Montgomery, Multan and Muzaffargarh.
- First Schedule listed the districts provisionally included in the new province of East Bengal:
There was much violence, and many Muslims from what would became India fled to Pakistan; and Hindus and Sikhs from what would become Pakistan fled to India. Many people left behind all their possessions and property to avoid the violence and flee to their new country.
On June 4, 1947, Mountbatten held a press conference in which he addressed the question of the princely states, of which there were over 563. The treaty relations between Britain and the Indian States would come to an end, and on August 15, 1947, the suzerainty of the British Crown was to lapse. They would be free to accede to one or the other of the new dominions or to remain independent.
Lord Mountbatten of Burma, the last Viceroy, was asked by the Indian leaders to continue as the Governor-General of India. Jawaharlal Nehru became the Prime Minister of India and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became the Home Minister.
Over 560 princely states acceded to India by 15 August. The exceptions were Junagadh, Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir was contiguous to both India and Pakistan, but its Hindu ruler chose to remain initially independent. Following a Pakistani tribal invasion, he acceded to India on 26 October 1947, and the state was disputed between India and Pakistan. The state of Junagadh initially acceded to Pakistan but faced a revolt from its Hindu population. Following a breakdown of law and order, its Dewan requested India to take over the administration on 8 November 1947. India conducted a referendum in the state on 20 February 1948, in which the people voted overwhelmingly to join India. The state of Hyderabad, with the majority Hindu population but Muslim ruler faced intense turmoil and sectarian violence. India intervened in the state on September 13, 1948, following which the ruler of the state signed the Instrument of Accession, joining India.
Between October 1947 and March 1948 the rulers of several Muslim-majority states signed instruments of accession to join Pakistan. These included Amb, Bahawalpur, Chitral, Dir, Kalat, Khairpur, Kharan, Las Bela, Makran, and Swat.
The Indian Independence Act was subsequently repealed in Article 395 of the Constitution of India and in Article 221 of the Constitution of Pakistan of 1956, both constitutions being intended to bring about greater independence for the new states. Although under British law, the new constitutions did not have the legal authority to repeal the Act, the repeal was intended to establish them as independent legal systems based only on home-grown legislation. The Act has not been repealed in the United Kingdom, where it still has an effect, although some sections of it have been repealed.
- Independence was at midnight on the 14/15 August, Pakistan chose to celebrate independence on the 14th and India on the 15th.
- Hoshiar Singh, Pankaj Singh; Singh Hoshiar. Indian Administration. Pearson Education India. p. 10. ISBN 978-81-317-6119-9. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
- represented by Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Acharya Kripalani
- represented by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan, and Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar
- represented by Sardar Baldev Singh
- Ghose, Sankar (1993). Jawaharlal Nehru : a biography (1. publ. ed.). New Delhi [u.a.]: Allied Publ. p. 151. ISBN 9788170233695.
- Extract of Clement Attlee's minute to the Secretary of State for India (Viscount Mountbatten of Burma), 18 March 1947 at British Library, accessed 27 December 2017
- Mehrotra, S.R. (1979). Towards Indias Freedom And Partition. Delhi: Vikash Publishing House. p. 247. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
- See Section 7 (1) (b): "the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States lapses, and with it, all treaties and agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and the rulers of Indian States, all functions exercisable by His Majesty at that date with respect to Indian States, all obligations of His Majesty existing at that date towards Indian States or the rulers thereof, and all powers, rights, authority or jurisdiction exercisable by His Majesty at that date in or in relation to Indian States by treaty, grant, usage, sufferance or otherwise."
- "Salient features of the act" (PDF). Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- "The history of partition". Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- R. P. Bhargava (1992) The Chamber of Princes, p. 313
- Indian Independence Act 1947. Opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved on 12 July 2013.
- Stein, Burton; Arnold, David (2010), A History of India, John Wiley & Sons, p. 359, ISBN 978-1-4051-9509-6, retrieved 27 July 2012
- Behera, Navnita Chadha (2007), Demystifying Kashmir, Pearson Education India, pp. 12–13, ISBN 8131708462
- Z. H. Zaidi, ed., Jinnah Papers: The states: Historical and Policy Perspectives and Accession to Pakistan, vol. VIII (Quaid-i-Azam Papers Project, Government of Pakistan, 2003), p. 113
- "Dominion of Pakistan". Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- "Article 221: The Government of India Act, 1935, and the Indian Independence Act, 1947, together with all enactments amending or supplementing those Acts, are hereby repealed: Provided that the repeal of the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, applicable for the purposes of Article 230 shall not take effect until the first day of April, 1957."
- "India's benign constitutional revolution". Retrieved 20 October 2015.
- Indian Independence Bill,1947
- "Indian Independence Act 1947 (c.30)" (PDF). Original Statute from The UK Statute Law Database. Office of Public Sector Information, National Archives, UK. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
- "Indian Independence Act 1947 (c.30)". Revised Statute from The UK Statute Law Database. Office of Public Sector Information, National Archives, UK. Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2008.