July 18th 1947: The India Independence Act 1947 Comes into Force

On July 18th 1947, the India Independence Act 1947 was given the royal assent and came into force. The India Independence Act was a United Kingdom act of parliament which separated British India into two new dominions of India and Pakistan. Pakistan came into being on August 14th 1947 and India on August 15th of the same year.


After the representatives of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League and the Sikh community came to an agreement with Lord Mountbatten, the then Viceroy of India, a legislation was formed by the government of then British Prime Minister Clement Attlee which has come to be known as the 3 June Plan or the Mountbatten plan. On February 20th, Prime Minister Attlee declared that the British government would hand over full self rule to India by June 1948 by the latest and the future of princely states would be decided after that.


The 3 June Plan, also known as the Mountbatten plan, declared that the partition of India was accepted by the British Government, successor governments would get a dominion status and an absolute right to withdraw from the British Commonwealth. The India Independence Act of 1947 was an implementation of the 3 June Plan.


The Act’s most important provisions were that British India would be divided into two completely sovereign dominions of Pakistan and India and would come into effect from August 15th 1947. It was decided that the states of Punjab and Bengal would be divided between both India and Pakistan. The office of the Governor General of each new country would be representatives of the crown. The title of “Emperor of India” was to be dropped by the British Monarch. The two independent nations came to be known as India and Pakistan and Lord Mountbatten was asked by Indian leaders to continue as Governor General of India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of Independent India and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel the Home Minister and over 560 princely states agreed to join India.


Across the border, Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the Governor General of the new nation of Pakistan and Liaquat Ali Khan became the first Prime Minister. Three princely states which could not be separated from Pakistan geographically became part of the nation.


The Independence of India was followed by Partition which is one of the bloodiest and most tragic events in the Indian subcontinent in recent history. Partition saw mass migration across the newly drawn border on foot and bullock carts as millions left in search of their promised new homeland. Indian Muslims moved to Pakistan and Hindus and Sikhs moved from what is now Pakistan back to India. The Partition of India left many uprooted and also witnessed vicious communal riots, which resulted in mass murder, abduction and rape. Most people left behind their homes and possessions in fear of communal violence.


Also On This Day:


1857 - The Universities of Calcutta, Mumbai and Madras are established.


1946 - U.K. Parliament approves British Cabinet mission report on India, but Churchill says that the mission goes too far in offering India independence outside of the Commonwealth.


1987 - Amitabh Bachhan resigns his Lok Sabha membership.


1994 - Munis Raza, famous educationist and former Chancellor of Delhi University, passes away.


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