|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||18 July 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|Text of statute as originally enacted|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 Royal Assent on 18 July 1947 and thus India and Pakistan, comprising West (modern day Pakistan) and East (modern day Bangladesh) regions, came into being on 14 August.[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.
Clement Attlee, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced on 20 February 1947 that:
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.
The 3 June 1947 Plan was also known as the Mountbatten Plan. The British government proposed a plan, announced on 3 June 1947, that included these principles:
The Act's most important provisions were:
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.
There was much violence, and many Muslims from what would become 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 4 June 1947, Mountbatten held a press conference in which he addressed the question of the princely states, of which there were over 565. The treaty relations between Britain and the Indian States would come to an end, and on 15 August 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 contrary to popular beliefs independence was never an option for the princely states as per the Mountbatten plan.
Princely states had no option 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 13 September 1948, following which the ruler of the state signed the Instrument of Accession, joining India.
Further information: Princely states of Pakistan
Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the Governor-General of Pakistan, and Liaquat Ali Khan became the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
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.