18 July 1947
Indian Independence Act
The Indian Independence Act 1947 received the royal assent and entered into force on 18th July 1947. This Act put into action the Mountbatten Plan for the independence and partition of India.
- The Indian Independence Act 1947 was an act of the British Parliament that partitioned India into two independent dominions of India and Pakistan.
- The legislation was drafted by the Labour government of Clement Attlee. It was based on the Mountbatten Plan or the 3 June Plan which was formulated after the leaders of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League agreed to the recommendations of the Viceroy Lord Mountbatten.
- Lord Mountbatten came to India with the specific task of seeing over the handing over of the authority to Indians. But the INC and the League could not agree on the question on partition.
- An initial plan proposed by Mountbatten known as the Dickie Bird Plan was opposed by Nehru. According to this plan, the provinces were to be declared independent and then allowed to join or not join the Constituent Assembly. Nehru opposed this as it would, in his opinion, would lead to the country’s balkanisation.
- Then, Mountbatten came up with the last plan known as the 3 June Plan which was accepted by all parties. The INC, which was opposed to any partition of the country, finally accepted it as an inevitable process.
- As per this plan, India would be partitioned into India and Pakistan. The constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly would not be applicable to the areas which would go into Pakistan. These provinces would then decide on a separate constituent assembly.
- The Legislative Assemblies of Punjab and Bengal voted for the partition according to which these provinces were to be divided between the two dominions along religious lines.
- The assembly of Sind was given the choice to join the Indian Constituent Assembly or not. It decided to join Pakistan. In the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) and Sylhet, a referendum was to be held which would decide the country they were to join.
- The complete legislative authority would be given to the Constituent Assemblies of the new countries.
- The Act decided to grant independence to India and Pakistan with effect from 15th August 1947.
- The new boundaries of the dominions would be demarcated by the Boundary Commission.
- British suzerainty over the princely states was to end. These states could decide to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent. Over 560 states decided to merge with India.
- The British emperor would cease to use the title ‘Emperor of India’.
- Until the new dominions’ constitutions would become effective, the heads of state would be the respective Governor-Generals who would continue to assent laws passed by the Constituent Assemblies in the name of the king.
- This Act received the royal assent on 18th July 1947 and entered into force.
- Pakistan became independent on 14th August and India on 15th August 1947. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was appointed Pakistan’s Governor-General and Lord Mountbatten became India’s.
Also on this day
1918: Birth of Nelson Mandela, human rights champion and the first black President of South Africa.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.