Indian Independence Act 1947

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Indian Independence Act 1947| Features of the Act, Effects of the Indian Independence Act 1947


On February 20, 1947, the British Prime Minister Clement Atlee 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 3, 1947, the British Government made it clear that any Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly of India (formed in 1946) cannot apply to those parts of the country which were unwilling to accept it. On the same day (June 3, 1947), 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 9 (1947).

Indian Independence Act 1947

Features of the Act:

• The Government of India continued to be constituted till the 14th of August 1947 as before 1935 under certain provisions of the Government of India Act (Otherwise repealed) continued in force by Sec.317 of the Government of India Act 1935 taken along with ninth scheduler thereto.

• On and from the 15th of August 1947 full and unqualified responsible government was established at the centre and in the Provinces of the Dominion of India under the Government of India Act 1955 as adopted by the Governor General of India in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by the Indian Independence Act 1947 and the Governor General and the Governors became purely Constitutional heads of their respective Governments.

• The Indian Independence Bill was presented before British Parliament on July 4, 1947 and was passed by Parliament on July 18, 1947. The Act gave effect to June 3 plan of lord Mountbatten.

• The Act provided for partition of India and the establishment of two dominions of India and Pakistan from the 15th day of August 1947. The Indian Independence Act 1947 did not provide for any new constitution of India. It was an enabling Act – an Act “to enable the representative of India and- Pakistan to frame their own constitutions and to provide for the exceedingly difficult period of Transition.

• From 15th August 1947, the British Government was to have no responsibility for the administration of British India. The Government of India Act 1935 was to be, for the time being, the basis constitution of India. It was however granted that the Governor General as also the Governors would not exercise their discretion or individual judgment.

• The control and services of the Secretary of State Was discontinued as a mark to end foreign domination over India. The British Forces which constituted another instrument, of British control over India were to be withdrawn from India. Pending the formation of a new constitution the Governor General was given power to modify or adopt the Government Act of, 1935.

• The Act terminated British authority over India and provided termination of the sovereignty of the Crown over Indian States. The right of the King to veto laws or to reserve laws for his pleasure was given up. The Indian Independence Act is a landmark in the constitutional history of India. It is the culminating point in a long Course of events. The prevision for safeguards for the minorities was also abolished.

• The formal and final termination of British rule in India and the inauguration of the Republic of India on 26th January 1950 es envisaged by the constitution of India adopted on 26th November 1949 by the Indian Constituent Assembly. This Constitution has in essence provided for the establishment of the parliamentary system of government both at the centre and in the Constituent States of the Indian Union. The President of India has virtually succeeded to the Office of Governor General of India and is the constitutional head of India. The Governors Act as constitutional heads in their States.

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

• It discontinued the appointment to 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 benefits that 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 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 became the Parliament of the Indian Dominion.

The Effects of the Indian Independence Act 1947:

• The Indian Independence Act altered the Constitutional position of India root and branch. Till 1947, in Constitutional theory the Government of India is a subordinate official Government.

• The Indian Independence Act 1947 declared that with effect from the 15th August 1947, the suzerainty of the British Crown over the Indian States lapsed and the treaty relations with Tribal areas also lapsed from that date.

• The responsibility of the British Government and Parliament ceased in respect of administration of India. The Office of the Secretary of State for India was abolished.

• Till 1947, the crown remained in the ultimate analysis the source of authority. India was so long a dependency of the British Crown. The Government of India functioned in the name of His Majesty.

• Under the Indian Independence act of 1947, India ceased to derive any sanction or authority for the Federation or Units from the Grown.

• The Governor General was made the head of the State, constitutionally. According to the adaptations under the Independence Act, there was no longer any Executive. Council as under the Act of 1919, or “Counsellors” as under the Act of 1935. The Governor General or the Provincial Governor was to act on the advice of a Council of Ministers having the confidence of the Dominion Legislature or the Provincial Legislature as the case might be.

• The Governor General or the Governor as the pase might he ceased to act “in his discretion,” and “in his individual judgment”. The powers of the Governor General as under the Government of India Act 1935 requiring Governors to discharge certain functions as his agents were effaced from the Act.

• The Central Legislature of India composed of the Legislature Assembly and the Council of State ceased to exist on the 14th August 1947. From the ’appointed day’ and until the Constituent Assembly was to frame the new Constitution and a new legislature was constituted there under the Constituent Assembly was to act as the’ Central Legislature of the Dominion.

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