Indian Independence Act of 1947

On February 20 1947, the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee declared that the British rule in India would end by June 30 1948 after which the power would be transferred to responsible Indian hands. This announcement was followed by the agitation by the Muslim League demanding partition of the country. Again on June 3rd 1947 the British government made it clear that any constitution framed by the constituent assembly of India cannot be applied to those parts of the country which were unwilling to accept it, on the same day Lord Mountbatten the viceroy of India put forth the partition plan known as the Mountbatten plan. The plan was accepted by the Congress and the Muslim League. Immediate effect was given to the plan by enacting the Indian Independence Act 1947.

Features of this act were as follows:

It ended the British rule in India and declared India as an independent and Sovereign state from August 15 1947.

It provided for the partition of India and creation of two independent Dominions of India and Pakistan with the right to secede from the British Commonwealth.

It abolished the office of Viceroy and provided for either dominion a governor general who was to be appointed by the British King on the advice of the Dominion cabinet. His Majesty’s government in Britain was to have no responsibility with respect to the Government of India and Pakistan.

It empowered the constituent assembly of the two dominions to frame and adopt any constitution for the respective nations and repeal any act of the British Parliament including the Independence Act itself.

It empowered the constituent assembly of both the Dominions to legislate for their respective territory till the new Constitution was drafted and enforced. No act of the British Parliament passed after August 15 1947 was to extend to either of the dominions unless it was extended thereto by a law of the Legislature of the Dominion.

It abolished the office of the Secretary of State for India and transferred his functions to the secretary of state for Commonwealth affairs.

It proclaimed the lapse of the British paramountcy over the Indian princely states and the Treaty relations with the tribal areas from August 15 1947.

It granted freedom to the Indian princely states to join the Dominion of India or dominion of Pakistan or to remain independent.

It provided for the Governance of each of the dominance and the provinces by the government of India Act of 1935 till the new Constitution was framed. The dominions were  however authorised to make modifications in the Act.

It deprived the British monarch of his right to veto bills or ask for reservation of certain bills for his approval. But this right was reserved for the Governor-General. The governor-general would have full power to assent to any bill in the name of His Majesty.

It designated the governor general of India and the provincial governors as constitutional heads of states; they were made to act on the advice of the respective Council of Ministers in all matters.

It dropped the title of Emperor of India from the Royal titles of the king of England.

It discontinued the appointment to the civil services and reservation of posts by the secretary of state for India

The members of the civil services appointed before August 15 ,1947 would continue to enjoy all the benefits they were entitled to till that time.

At the stroke of midnight of 14-15 August 1947 the British rule came to an end and the power was transferred to the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten became the first Governor General of the new Dominion of India, he swore in Jawaharlal Nehru as the first Prime Minister of independent India. The Constituent assembly of India formed in 1946 in became the parliament of the Indian Dominion.