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The Indian Independence Act 1947 was the statute (10 and 11 Geo VI, c. 30) enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdommarker promulgating the partition of India and the independence of the dominions of Pakistan and India. The Act received royal assent on July 18, 1947.

The legislation was formulated by the government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee, after representatives of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, and the Sikh community came to an agreement with the Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, on what has come to be known as the 3 June Plan or Mountbatten Plan.

Principal points

Passed on 15 June 1947, the Act stipulated that:

  • Two independent dominions, India and Pakistan shall be set up in India .
  • The dominions would be set up on a fixed date: the fifteenth of August 1947.
  • The responsibility as well as suzerainty of the government of the United Kingdommarker shall cease on fifteenth of August 1947.
  • That all Indian princely states shall be released from their official commitments and treaty relationships with the British Empire, and will be free to join either dominion.
  • Both Dominions will be completely self-governing in their internal affairs, foreign affairs and national security, but the British monarch will continue to be their head of state, represented by the Governor-General of India and a new Governor-General of Pakistan. Both Dominions shall convene their Constituent Assemblies and write their respective constitutions.


  • Both Dominions will be members of the British Commonwealth, but free to leave whenever they please.




PRETEXT OF INDIAN INDEPENDENCE ACT

Atlee’s Announcement: February 20, 1947i. British Government would grant full self government to British India by June 1948 at the latest

ii. The future of Princely States will be decided after the date of final transfer will be decided

iii. New Governor General for India: Lord Mountbatten of Burma replaced Lord Wavell as new Governor General of India.

3 June Plan: June 3, 1947

i. Principle of Partition of India was accepted by the British Government

ii. Successor governments would be given dominion status

iii. Implicit right to secede from the British Commonwealth

Indian Independence Act 1947 was implementation of June 3 Plan

Structure of the Act

i. 20 Sections

ii. 3 Schedules

Salient features of the act

1)Two New Dominions:

Two new dominions were to emerge from the Indian Union, i.e. Pakistan & India.

2)Appointed Date:

August 15, 1947, was declared as the appointed date for the partition.

3)Territories:

a)Pakistan: East Bengal, West Punjab, Sind, and Chief Commissioner’s Province of Baluchistan.

b)The fate of North West Frontier Province was subject to the result of referendum.

4)Bengal & Assam:

a) The province of Bengal as constituted under the Government of India Act 1935 ceased to exist;

b) In lieu thereof two new provinces were to be constituted, to be known respectively as East Bengal and West Bengal.

c) The fate of District Sylhet, in the province of Assam, was to be decided in a referendum.

5) Punjab:

a) The province as constituted under as constituted under the Government of India Act 1935 ceased to exist;

b) Two new provinces were to be constituted, to be known respectively as West Punjab & East Punjab

6) The Boundaries of New Provinces:

were to be determined by, whether before or after the appointed date, by the award of a boundary commission to be appointed by the Governor General.

7) Constitution for the New Dominions:

Until the time of framing of 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.)

8)The Governor General of the New Dominions:

a) 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.

b) 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.

9) The Powers of Governor General: (Section-9)

a) Gov-Gen was empowered to bring this Act in force.

b) Division of territories, powers, duties, rights, assets, liabilities, etc. was the responsibility of Gov-Gen.

c) To adopt, amend, Government of India Act 1935, as the Gov-Gen may consider it necessary.

d) The power to introduce any change was until March 31, 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.)

e) Gov-Gen had full powers to give assent to any law.

10) Legislation For New Dominions:

a) 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.)

b) The legislature of each Dominion was given full powers to make laws for that dominion, including laws having extraterritorial operation.

c) No Act of Parliament of UK passed after the appointed date would be extended to the territories of new Dominions.

d) 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.

e) Gov-Gen 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]

11) Consequences Of Setting up of the New Dominions:

a) His/Her Majesty’s Government lost all the responsibility to the new dominions]

b) The suzerainty of His Majesty’s Government over the Indian States lapsed.

c) All the treaties or agreements in force at the passing of the Act lapsed.

d) The title of “Emperor of India” was dropped from the titles of British Crown.

e) 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

12) Civil Servants:

Section 10 provided for the continuance of service of the government servants appointed on or before August 15, 1947 under the Governments of new Dominions with full benefits.

13) Armed Forces:

Sections 11, 12, & 13 dealt with the future of Indian Armed Forces. A Partition Committee was formed on June07, 1947, with 2 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.

14) FIRST & SECOND SCHEDULES:

a) First Schedule listed the districts provisionally included in the new province of East Bengal:

i. Chittagong Division: Chittagong, Noakhali & Tippera.

ii. Dacca Division: Bakarganj, Dacca, Faridpur, & Mymensingh.

iii. Presidency Division: Jessor, Murshidabad & Nadia

iv. Rajshahi Division: Bogra, Dinajpur, Malda, Rajshahi & Rangpur.

b) Second Schedule listed the districts provisionally included in the new province of West Punjab:

i. Lahore Division: Gujranwala, Gurdaspur, Lahore, Sheikhupura & Sialkot.

ii. Rawalpindi Division: Attock, Gujrat, Jehlum, Rawalpindi & Shahpur.

iii. Multan Division: Dera Ghazi Khan, Jhang, Lyallpur, Montgomery, Multan & Muzaffargarh

15) Princely States of India

There were a total of 562 princely states in India. Mountbatten in his press conference on June 4 1947 gave the framework on their fate:

  1. Indian States were independent in treaty relations with Britain
  2. On August 15, 1947 the paramountancy of British crown was to lapse
  3. Consequently the princely states would assume independent status
  4. The states would be free to choose one or other constituent assembly


The following 10 states signed instrument of accession with Pakistan:

Amb, Bahawalpur, Chitral, Dir, Kalat, Khairpur, Kharan, Lasbela, Makran, Swat

Aftermath

India

Lord Mountbatten of Burma, the last Viceroy, was retained as the Governor-General of India. Jawaharlal Nehru became the Prime Minister of India and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became the Deputy Prime Minister of India. Over 560 princely states acceded to India, with the states of Junagadhmarker and Hyderabad annexed after military action.

Pakistan

Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the Governor-General of Pakistan, and Liaquat Ali Khan became the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Three princely states geographically inalienable to Pakistan joined the Dominion.Kashmir was disputed.

1947 Kashmir War

Indiamarker and Pakistanmarker were engaged a military conflict over the Himalayan kingdom of Kashmirmarker. Both nations control significant territories of the disputed state, and the issue remains unresolved.

See also



Notes

  1. represented by Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Acharya Kripalani
  2. represented by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan, and Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar
  3. representated by Sardar Baldev Singh
  4. OPSI_UK
  5. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/RevisedStatutes/Acts/ukpga/1947/cukpga_19470030_en_1#IDA3KLY


References




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