Indian Independence Act of 1947



The Indian Independence Act, 1947, crucial because it enabled the transfer of power from the Crown to India in an amicable manner, was passed in British Parliament on July 5 that year, and received royal assent on July 18. A plan was formulated to split the British Indian colonies into India and Pakistan by Viceroy of India Lord Louis Mountbatten and Prime Minister of Britain Clement Attlee on June 3, 1947, after consultations with the main stakeholders — Indian National Congress, the Muslim League and representatives of the Sikh community.


Salient features of Indian Independence Act 1947 are:

  • It declared India as an independent and sovereign state
  • It provided for partition of India and creation of two new dominions- India and Pakistan
  • It abolished the position of secretary of state for India
  • It abolished the office of viceroy and provided for each dominion, a governor-general, who was to be appointed by the British King on the advice of the dominion cabinet
  • It empowered the constituent assemblies of the two dominions to frame and adopt any constitution for their respective nations and to repeal any act of the British parliament, including the independence act itself
  • The constituent assemblies were empowered to legislate for their respective dominions till the new constitutions were drafted and enforced
  • It granted the princely states the freedom to join either of the dominions or to remain independent
  • Governance of each dominion was to be conducted based on the provisions of the GoI act, 1935
  • British monarch could no longer ask for bills or veto them. However, this was reserved for Governor-General.
  • Governor-General of the dominions were made to act on the aid and advise of the council


Evaluation of the features of act:

  • Hastened act: the lack of clarity on the border still has its repercussions today with constant tussle between India and Pakistan. The same is the case with border on Chinese side.
  • Jammu and Kashmir question: Jammu and Kashmir has been the bone of contention even today.
  • Rise in communal feeling: Another unforeseen consequence of Partition was that Pakistan’s population ended up more religiously homogeneous than originally anticipated.
  • Suspicion: Indian Muslims are frequently suspected of harbouring loyalties towards Pakistan; non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan are increasingly vulnerable thanks to the so-called Islamisation of life there since the 1980s.



Seven decades on, well over a billion people still live in the shadow of Partition. Thus, post-partition fragmented identities strengthened and much celebrated value of tolerance and acceptance appears to have weakened disturbing social harmony in the country. Exploitation of religious sentiments for political gains has further polarized the society.