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The Partition of India 1947

Updated on October 18, 2015

Partition of 1947

The Indian Independence Act, 1947, which marked the final stage in the constitutional evolution of the country from a dependency on the British Government to a fully independent nation, provided an interim constitution to both India and Pakistan by means of amending the Act of 1935, by the Adaptation Orders, and this was to operate till the Constituent Assembly of the country concerned was able to draw up and enact its own Constitution. The adaptations, however, repudiated all those clauses under the Act of 1935 which had stood in the way of the country's exercise of sovereign power. The Act of 1858 had transferred the Government of India from the East India Company to the Crown, and the Governor-General of India was a subordinate official under the Secretary of State who was responsible to the British Parliament.

Under the Indian Independence Act, 1947, India was declared to be an independent country and the suzerainty of the British Crown was to lapse with effect from 15 August 1947. The office of the Secretary of State for India was consequently abolished. The Government of India was no longer to be carried on in the name of His Majesty. The Governor-General and Provincial Governors were reduced to the positions of constitutional heads. With a change in the status of the Governor-General, the Executive Council provided under the earlier Acts also ceased to function and the Governor-General at the Central level and the Provincial Governors at the Provincial levels were now to act on the advice of a Council of Ministers having the confidence of the Central or the Provincial Legislatures, as the case might be. Powers which so far rested with the Governor-General, or the Provincial Governor 'acting in his discretion,' or 'individual judgment' were removed. The Governor-General and the Provincial Governor no longer possessed any extraordinary power of legislation through Acts, Proclamations and Ordinances, unless advised to do so by the respective Council of Ministers. The Governor no longer had the power to suspend the Provincial Constitution. The Constituent Assembly which had already been busy with framing a new Constitution for India was now to function as the Central Legislature of the country, in addition to its responsibilities of framing the Constitution. In other words, it was both a legislative and a constituent body now. Under the Indian Independence Act, 1947, India and Pakistan were two completely sovereign States on the 'appointed day,' that is, 15 August 1947.


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    • profile image

      Anwar Ahmad Ansari 

      7 years ago

      The reasons of partion of India - Just one reason.


      I am one of those unfortunate people who endured and survived the rigours of migration from East Panjab to West Panjab. The seven-hour train journey from Ambala to Wagah spread over four days and my mother had been so badly injured that she could die any moment. My mother breathed her last after a few days crossing into Pakistan and was buried in Lahore. People who died in the journey were thrown away to wild animals and we saw our nears and dears being ripped apart by the beasts of prey. Of course this happened on both sides. Muslims in Pakistan were not far behind their Hindu-Sikh counterparts in looting, raping and abductions which I personally found out about a year later in Pakistan.

      However, in all the accounts of causes and reasons of partition that have appeared is not mentioned the only reason because of which the catastrophic partition of India took please. It has not been mentioned anywhere that it was the Muslim League who had first approved the Cabinet Mission Plan to keep India united. The Muslim League approved the Cabinet Mission Plan unanimously. Whereas later, having taken a longer time than did the Muslim League, the Congress also gave its approval, but after a fierce voting.

      That shows that the Muslim League was united on keeping India united. And the Indian National Congress was divided on keeping India united.

      Although quotations from Abul Kalam Azad's 'India Wins Freedom' appear in articles and books on the subject. But, sadly what is not quoted are the passages that show quite clearly what precipitated the partition of India and that the Indian National Congress leadership sacrificed the unity of India over the false prestige of the President of Indian National Congress, i.e. Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru. And Indian National Congress made Jinnah and the Muslim League the scapegoat of their failures. I give below the relevant passages from 'India Wins Freedom'.

      Abul Kalam Azad giving account of the A.I.C.C.'s passing the resolution to approve the Cabinet Mission Plan, says:

      "My speech had a decisive influence on the audience. When the vote was taken the resolution was passed with an overwhelming majority, thus the seal of approval was put on the Working Committee's resolution accepting the Cabinet Mission Plan.

      After a few days, I received telegrams of congratulation from Lord Pethick Lawrence and Sir Stafford Cripps. They were happy that the A.I.C.C. had accepted my resolution and congratulated me on my able presentation of the Cabinet Mission Plan.

      "Now happened one of those unfortunate events which changed the course of history. On 10 July, Jawaharlal held a Press Conference in Bombay in which he made a statement which in normal circumstances might have passed almost unnoticed, but in the existing atmosphere of suspicion and hatred, set in train a most unfortunate series of consequences. Some Press representatives asked him whether with the passing of the Resolution by A.I.C.C., the Congress had accepted the Plan in toto, including the composition of the interim Government.

      "Jawaharlal stated in reply that Congress would enter the Constituent Assembly 'completely unfettered by agreements and free to meet all situations as they arise.' (Inverted comas of the author)

      "Press representatives further asked if this meant that the Cabinet Mission Plan could be modified.

      "Jawaharlal replied emphatically that the Congress had agreed only to participate in the Constituent Assembly and regarded itself free to change or modify the Cabinet Mission Plan as it thought best.

      "I must place on record that Jawaharlal's statement was wrong. It was not correct to say that Congress was free to modify the Plan as it pleased. We had in fact agreed that the Central Government would be federal. There would be the compulsory list of three Central subjects while all other subjects remained in the provincial sphere. We had further agreed that there would be the three Sections, viz. A, B and C in which the provinces would be grouped. These matters could not be changed unilaterally by Congress without the consent of other parties to the agreement.

      "The Muslim League had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan, as this represented the utmost limit to which the British Government would go. In his speech to the League Council, Mr. Jinnah had clearly stated that he recommended acceptance only because nothing better could be obtained.

      "Mr. Jinnah was thus not very happy about the outcome of the negotiations, but he had reconciled himself as there was no alternative. Jawaharlal's statement came to him as a bombshell. ............................................................................

      .................................................................................... Now that the Congress President had declared that the Congress could change the scheme through its majority in the Constituent Assembly, this would mean that the minorities were


      placed at the mercy of the majority. His view was that Jawaharlal's declaration meant that the Congress had rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan and as such the Viceroy should call upon the Muslim league, which had accepted the Plan, to form the Government.

      "I was extremely perturbed by this new development. I saw that the scheme for which I had worked so hard was being destroyed through our own action. I felt that a meeting of the Working Committee must be held immediately to review the situation. The Working Committee accordingly met on 8 August. I pointed out that if we wanted to save the situation, we must make it clear that the view of the Congress was expressed by the resolution passed by the A.I.C.C. and that no individual, not even the Congress President, could change it.

      The Working Committee felt that it faced a dilemma. On the one side, the prestige of the Congress President was at stake. On the other, the settlement which we had so painfully achieved was in danger. To repudiate the President's statement would weaken the organization but to give up the Cabinet Mission Plan would ruin the country. Finally, we drafted a Resolution which made no reference to the Press Conference but reaffirmed the decision of the A.I.C.C. in the following terms:

      The Working Committee regret to note that the Council of the All-India Muslim League, reversing their previous decision, had decided not to participate in the Constituent Assembly. In this period of rapid transition from dependence on a foreign power to full independence, when vast and intricate political and economic problems have to be faced and solved, the largest measure of co-operation among the people of India and their representatives is called for, so that the change-over should be smooth and to the advantage of all concerned. The Committee realise that there are differences in the outlook and objectives of the Congress and the Muslim League. Nevertheless, in the larger interest of the .........................................................................................

      "We had hoped that this Resolution of the Working Committee would save the situation .......................................... .. .................................................. Mr. Jinnah did not however accept the position and held that Jawaharlal's statement represented the real mind of Congress. He argued that if Congress could change so many times, while the British were still in the country and power had not come to its hands, what assurance could the minorities have that once the British left, Congress would not again change and go back to the position taken up in Jawaharlal's statement?

      "His Excellency the Viceroy, with the approval of His Majesty's Government, has invited the President of the Congress to take proposals for the immediate formation of an interim Government and the President of the Congress has accepted the invitation. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru will shortly visit New Delhi to disc

    • chander mehra profile image

      Chander Mehra 

      7 years ago from Delhi

      In my view, the partition of India on the basis of Jinnah's two-nation theory was a horrendous mischief because it is just a political theory by Islamic fundamentalists and remain a theory without any legitimate theory.

      The fanatics are now using to divide the world as a whole into MUSLIM and KAFIR infidels.

      The first step should be to trash the two-nation theory and, consequently, delegitimize the creation of the Islamic state of Pakistan.


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