Mountbatten Plan and Indian Independence Act: Critical Overview of 1946-1947


Mountbatten Plan and Indian Independence Act: Critical Overview of 1946-1947

Mountbatten Plan and Indian Independence Act (Credit: Newsflicks)
Mountbatten Plan and Indian Independence Act (Credit: Newsflicks)

Mountbatten Plan, 1946 and Indian Independence Act 1947 intended to finalize the Partition of India under such social and political turmoil because colonizers have become extremely vulnerable aftermath the Second World War. The present article analyzes the proposals of the Mountbatten Plan and the Indian Independence Act 1947. 


Mountbatten Plan success to find a way out of Indian deadlock.
Mountbatten Plan success to find a way out of Indian deadlock

With the letdown of the Cabinet Mission, a large-magnitude unprecedented scandalous wave of destructive communal activities called Direct Mass Action upsurged on the Indian Subcontinent that resorted to mass rapes, riots, and massacres, etc. for petitioning to constitute an independent partitioned dominion called Pakistan for the Indian Muslim population. In the meantime, Lord Wavell was struggling hard for the installation of an Interim Government purely containing Congressmen in which Mr. Nehru was regarded as the Prime Minister of then-India and on Jinnah’s persuasion, Liaquat Ali Khan also accepted the obligations of Finance Ministry of then-India. 

By 26 October 1946, Wavell silently added League’s members into the interim government but how long can Britishers glue the premier Hindu and Muslim political parties in one nation who had diametrically opposite portfolios. Even though the Constituent Assembly had contemplated the SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC India in the first proceeding of the Constituent Assembly in December 1946 and had discussed the fundamental rights of countrymen but amid increased tensions, League demanded the dissolution of the Constitution-framing body by February 1947. Left with no ways out, Mr Atlee, the Prime Minister of Britain proclaimed on 20 Feb 1947 that:

His Majesty’s Government will have to consider to whom the powers of the Central Government should be handed over on due date [30 June 1948], whether as a whole to some form of Central Government for British India or in some areas to the existing Provincial Governments.

Initially, the declaration was greeted with incredulity by Indians but as soon as Lord Mountbatten was appointed as the last Viceroy of undivided colonial India for winding up the scattered remains of British legislation, the untimely warning for solving the interior communal deadlock was perceived critically and seriously. With the uncontrollable communal strife between Hindus and Muslims, the unimaginable idea of PARTITION was imagined to bring into a reality in front of Jinnah’s obstinacy. 

In the summers of June 1947, Mountbatten arrived in India for the rapid transference of powers from Britain to Indian leadership based on the grant of dominion status, and under his proposal, he provisioned the following points:

  1. It suggested conducting a plebiscite in Punjab and Bengal Legislative Assemblies to decide by a simple majority if these provinces wanted Partition or not.
  2. It subscribed to the creation of two dominions and two Constituent Assemblies if the partition was finalized.
  3. Sindh could determine on its own whether to join any of the dominions or remain independent.
  4. For recognizing the demand of Congress’ unified India, Mountbatten claimed:
  • Independence of Princely States to determine by themselves whether they intend to join India or Pakistan.
  • Independence of Bengal
  • Declared that freedom would be showered on the nations on 15th August 1947.
  • A Boundary Commission would be set up to demarcate the geopolitical boundary between the two nations if Partition was decided.

Nerved of the inevitability of Partition of India, Congressmen by 1947 upheld and welcomed Mountbatten’s Plan. Without the smallest pause, the plebiscite was conducted in Punjab, Bengal, Sylhet districts in Bengal that concluded that India would be partitioned and based on its results, East Bengal and West Punjab became part of Pakistan dominion and West Bengal and East Punjab remained in Indian geographical Region. Sindh, Baluchistan, NWFP decided to join Pakistan.


Partitioning India: Indian Independence Act
Partitioning India: Indian Independence Act

Premised upon Mountbatten Plan, the British Parliament enacted the Indian Independence Act on 5th July 1947 that got royal assent on 18th July 1947 and was implemented on 15th August 1947. It outlined the following provisions:

  1. Validated Partitioning of India into two separate and sovereign dominions: India and Pakistan who would be administered by their respective Governors-General with effect from 15th August 1947 
  2. Creation of two Separate Constituent Assemblies who would articulate the Constitution of India and Pakistan during the traditional period.
  3. The complete legislative authority conferred upon the respective Constituent Assemblies of the two new nations
  4. In the interlude, the governments of dominions will function by the Government of India Act 1935.
  5. Termination of British suzerainty over the princely states, with effect from 15 August 1947

Under this legislation, Pakistan and India achieved their independence on the 14th and 15th of August in the year 1947 respectively.

Indian Independence was an algebraic product of countless sacrifices of revolutionaries, indomitable courage of nationalists, the bloodshed of the general public, the life struggles of non-stoppable leaders, and the nationalist’s vision for unfurling the tricolor of an invincible nation that would forever be sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic and republic but Partition of India that was the byproduct of Indian Independence demarcated the continuous perpetuation of communal tensions between the two nations forever… Therefore, the happiness of Indian Independence was also accompanied by the communal Partition of India.


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