HOW INDIA WAS GOVERNED WHEN IT GOT IT’S INDEPENDENCE WHILE THE CONSTITUTION WAS STILL IN MAKING

The India Independence Act 1947 helped India to be governed when the Constitution was not formulated.


BACKGROUND

The Indian Independence Act was passed in 1947, The legislation was drafted by the Labor government of Clement Attlee. It was supported by the Mountbatten Plan or the 3rd June Plan which was formulated after the leaders of the Indian National Congress and also the Muslim League agreed to the recommendations of the Viceroy Lord Mountbatten. The June 3, 1947 plan was also referred to as the Mountbatten Plan which included these principles:

1. The Plan suggested Partition of India

2. Successor governments would be given dominion status

3. autonomy and sovereignty was given to both countries

4. can make their own constitution

5. The Princely States were given the right to either join Pakistan or India

6. Provinces or the Princely States can become a separate nation other than being part of Pakistan or India.

This plan was put into action by the Indian Independence Act 1947 on 18 July 1947. The act created two newly independent countries; India and Pakistan. Pakistan was split into two parts one is Pakistan and the other one is east Pakistan which is now known as Bangladesh. The princely states were given the choice to either remain in India or move to Pakistan.

The Bengal and Punjab provinces were partitioned between the 2 new countries. These dominions separated the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh population and caused the most important forced migration which has ever happened that wasn't the result of war or famine. The Act abolished the usage of the ‘Emperor of India’ as a title for the British Crown and ended all existing treaties with the princely states.



Lord Mountbatten became the 1st British Governor-General of Independent India and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was appointed India’s first Prime Minister, Muhammad Ali Jinnah became Pakistan’s Governor-General and Liaquat Ali Khan it's Prime Minister. 15th August has since then celebrated as India’s Independence Day and Pakistan celebrates Independence day on 14th August.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE INDEPENDENCE ACT

1. Two new Independent dominion state were to emerge from the Indian empire: Pakistan and India, the boundaries between the two dominion states were to be determined by a Boundary Commission which was headed by Sir Cyril Radcliff.

2. 15 August 1947 was declared as the appointed date for the partition.

3. Territories:

(i)Pakistan: West Punjab, East Bengal, Territories of the Sindh, North West frontier provinces, Syllhat divisions of Assam, Bhawalpur, KhairPur, Baluchistan and 8 other princely states of Baluchistan.

(ii)The fate of North-West Frontier Province (now Pakhtunkhwa) was subject to the result of a referendum.

(iii)Bengal & Assam:

-The Bengal province made under the Government of India Act 1935 ceased to exist.

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

-District Sylhet, in the province of Assam, was to be decided in a referendum whether to stay with India or give away to Pakistan.

(iv)Punjab:

-This province was made under the Government of India Act 1935 ceased to exist.

- Two new provinces were to be constituted, to be known respectively as West Punjab and East Punjab.

4. The authority of the British Crown over the princely states ceased and they were free to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent.

5. Constitution for the New Dominions until the time of making of the new constitution, the new dominions and the provinces thereof were to be governed by the Government of India Act 1935 and some temporary provisions were made.

6. The Governors-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. The same person will be Governor-General of both dominions unless and until provisions were made contrary to law of the legislature of either of the new dominions.

7. Powers of Governor-General: (Section-9)

a. The Governor-General was empowered to bring this Act in force.

b. Division of territories, powers, duties, rights, assets, liabilities, etc., was the responsibility of Governor-General.

c. To adopt, amend, Government of India Act 1935, as the Governor-General may consider it necessary.

d. power to introduce any change was until 31 March 1948, after that constituent assembly came into existence to modify or adapt the same Act.

e. Governor-General had full powers to give assent to any law.

8. Legislation for the new dominions:

a. The existing legislative setup was allowed to continue as a Constitution-making body as well as a legislature.

b. The legislature of each dominion was given full powers to make laws for that dominion, including laws having an 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. 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:

a. His 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 with the Indian States and the tribal areas that were 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 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 was abolished.

10. Section 10 of the Indian Independence Act 1977 provided for the continuance of service of the government servants appointed on or before 15 August.

11. Sections 11, 12, and 13 of the Indian Independence Act 1947 dealt with the future of the Indian armed forces.

CONCLUSION

Jinnah left for Karachi on August 7, 1947. The Constituent assembly of Pakistan elected him the President. Three days later he was sworn as the Governor-General of Pakistan. On the midnight of 14 August and 15 August 1947, India and Pakistan became two different independent nations. The Constituent assembly appointed Lord Mountbatten as the First Governor-General of India. On the morning of August 15, 1947, a new cabinet headed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was sworn in. India suffered a lot in the form of thousands of lives lost in the fire of partition.

The Mountbatten Plan was not only focused on the partition of India but also the speedy transfer of responsibilities in the two new Dominions which was created.

The Indian Independence Act of 1947 was stricken down in Article 395 of the Constitution of India and in Article 221 of the Constitution of Pakistan of 1956. The Act also created legislature of both the new Dominions. It also stated that the British would cease to have any control at all in any matters of India from August 14, 1947, onwards. The same applied for Pakistan as well. It also made provisions for the establishment and working of constituent assemblies of India as well as Pakistan. It also declared that the constituent assemblies in both these countries would have all the powers vested in them.

© The People Bookmark | 2020

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