Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Indian Independence Act 1947

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Royal assent
18 July 1947

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.

1947 c. 30 (10 & 11. Geo. 6.)

The Indian Independence Act 1947 (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 18 July 1947, and Pakistan came into being on 15 August at the same time as Indian independence. However, due to viceroy Lord Mountbatten's need to be in New Delhi for the transfer of power, Pakistan celebrated its formation a day ahead on 14 August 1947 to enable him to attend both events.


The legislation was formulated by the government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten, 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. This plan was the last plan for independence.

Attlee’s announcement

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced on 20 February 1947 that:

  1. British Government would grant full self-government to British India by June 1948 at the latest,
  2. The future of Princely States would be decided after the date of final transfer is decided.

3 June Plan

This was also known as the Mountbatten Plan. The British government proposed a plan announced on 3 June 1947 that included these principles:

  1. Principle of Partition of India was accepted by the British Government
  2. Successor governments would be given dominion status
  3. Implicit right to secede from the British Commonwealth

The Indian Independence Act 1947 was the implementation of 3 June Plan..


The Act's most important provisions were:

  • division of British India into the two new and fully sovereign dominions of India and Pakistan, with effect from 15 August 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 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.

    Salient features

    1. Two new dominion states: Two new dominions were to emerge from the Indian Union, Pakistan and India.The Dominion of India may be regarded as an expression of the desire for self-government of the Hindus in India, and the Dominion of Pakistan as the expression of the demand for self-government by the Muslims.
    2. Appointed Date: 15 August 1947 was declared as the appointed date for the partition.
    3. Territories:
      1. Pakistan: East Bengal, West Punjab, Sind, and Chief Commissioner’s Province of Baluchistan.
      2. The fate of North West Frontier Province (now Pakhtunkhwa) was subject to the result of referendum.
      3. Bengal & Assam:
        1. The province of Bengal as constituted under the Government of India Act 1935 ceased to exist;
        2. In lieu thereof two new provinces were to be constituted, to be known respectively as East Bengal and West Bengal.
        3. The fate of District Sylhet, in the province of Assam, was to be decided in a referendum.
      4. Punjab:
        1. The province as constituted under the Government of India Act 1935 ceased to exist;
        2. Two new provinces were to be constituted, to be known respectively as West Punjab & East Punjab
    4. The boundaries of the 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.
    5. 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.)
    6. The Governors General of the new dominions:
      1. 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.
      2. 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.
    7. Powers of Governor General: (Section-9)
      1. The Governor General was empowered to bring this Act in force.
      2. Division of territories, powers, duties, rights, assets, liabilities, etc., was the responsibility of Governor General
      3. To adopt, amend, Government of India Act 1935, as the Governor-General may consider it necessary.
      4. 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.)
      5. Governor-General had full powers to give assent to any law.
    8. Legislation for the new dominions:
      1. 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.)
      2. The legislature of each dominion was given full powers to make laws for that dominion, including laws having extraterritorial operation.
      3. No Act of Parliament of UK passed after the appointed date would be extended to the territories of new dominions.
      4. 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.
      5. 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]
    9. Consequences of setting up of the new dominions:
      1. His Majesty’s Government lost all the responsibility to the new dominions
      2. The suzerainty of His Majesty’s Government over the Indian States lapsed.
      3. All the treaties or agreements in force at the passing of the Act lapsed.
      4. The title of "Emperor of India" was dropped from the titles of British Crown.
      5. 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
    10. 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.
    11. Armed Forces: Sections 11, 12, & 13 dealt with the future of Indian Armed Forces. A Partition Committee was formed on 7 June 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.
    12. First and Second Schedules:
      1. First Schedule listed the districts provisionally included in the new province of East Bengal:
        1. Chittagong Division: Chittagong, Noakhali & Tippera.
        2. Dacca Division: Bakarganj, Dacca, Faridpur, & Mymensingh.
        3. Presidency Division: Jessor, Murshidabad & Nadia
        4. Rajshahi Division: Bogra, Dinajpur, Malda, Rajshahi & Rangpur.
      2. Second Schedule listed the districts provisionally included in the new province of West Punjab:
        1. Lahore Division: Gujranwala, Gurdaspur, Lahore, Sheikhupura & Sialkot.
        2. Rawalpindi Division: Attock, Gujrat, Jehlum, Rawalpindi & Shahpur.
        3. Multan Division: Dera Ghazi Khan, Jhang, Lyallpur, Montgomery, Multan & Muzaffargarh

    Princely states

    On 4 June 1947 Mountbatten held a press conference in which he addressed the question of the princely states, of which there were over 570. 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.


    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, which was contiguous to both India and Pakistan, was expected to accede to Pakistan on account of its 77% Muslim majority and its cultural and commercial links to West Punjab (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 became a dispute 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 majority Hindu population but Muslim ruler, faced an intense turmoil and sectarian violence. India invaded the state on 13 September 1948, following which the ruler of the state signed the Instrument of Accession, joining India.


    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 an Instrument of Accession to join Pakistan. These included Amb, Bahawalpur, Chitral, Dir, Kalat, Khairpur, Kharan, Las Bela, Makran, and Swat.


    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.

    The act was subsequently repealed in the article 395 of the Constitution of India and article 221 of the Constitution of Pakistan of 1956 to obtain true independence for the new states. Though the new constitutions did not have legal authority to repeal the act, it was done to sever the legal chain of validity and establish the constitution as an independent legal system. It has not been repealed in the United Kingdom, where it is still current legislation, although some sections have been repealed.


    Indian Independence Act 1947 Wikipedia