Indian Independence Act 1947: Salient Features, Provisions, UPSC Notes

By K Balaji|Updated : January 16th, 2023

Indian Independence Act 1947 was enacted by the British Parliament, and it divided India into two separate and independent nations, India and Pakistan. The Indian Independence Act 1947 was granted royal assent by the United Kingdom's Parliament on July 18th, 1947. And finally, on August 15th, 1947, India and Pakistan were divided into two separate sovereign nations.

The Indian Independence Act 1947 UPSC is broadly considered under the Indian Polity and Governance; however, it can also be a part of History. Questions from the 18 July 1947 Act are asked in both Prelims and Mains Exams. Candidates preparing for the upcoming exam must thoroughly prepare the topic.

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Indian Independence Act 1947

The Indian Independence Act 1947 was enacted by the British Parliament, which got its royal assent on July 18, 1947. By affirmation of royal assent, India gained independence. The act provided that the date August 15, 1947, would be the "'appointment date’ under the Government of India Act, 1935, and there would be two sovereign dominions, India and Pakistan. The constituent assembly of both the dominions was given the freedom and power to choose the power to frame and adopt any constitution.

The 18 July 1947 Act gave all the authority to the constituent assembly to repeal any of the acts made by the British Parliament, even the Indian Independence Act 1947. From August 15th, 1947, to January 26th, 1950, a drafting committee was formed to draft the Indian Constitution. The drafting committee worked directly under the then-law minister, Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

The committee prepared the draft of the Constitution of India after detailed deliberation and discussion on the existing system of administration. This draft received assent from the President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

History of Indian Independence Act 1947

On February 20, 1947, the then British Prime Minister, Clement Atlee, declared the Indian Independence Act 1947. Soon after the announcement of Clement Atlee, the Muslim League demanded the partition of the country for a separate nation for Muslims. Following this, the major events related to the India Independence Act 1947 are listed below:

  • Regarding this, the British government, on June 3, 1947, clearly stated that any Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly of India would not apply to the parts of the country that were not willing to accept it.
  • On the very same day, on June 3, 1947, Lord Mountbatten, who was the Viceroy of India, gave the plan of partition, which was popularly known as the Mountbatten Plan. This plan implemented the two-nation theory of Syed Ahmad Khan.
  • The Congress and Muslim League together agreed on this plan, and it was brought into action with immediate effect, thereby enacting the Indian Independence Act 1947.

Features of Indian Independence Act 1947

Following are the major features of the Indian Independence Act that must be read comprehensively by every UPSC aspirant:

  • The 18 July 1947 Act declared the end of British rule in India, and India was a sovereign state from August 15th, 1947.
  • This act abolished the offices of the Viceroy and Governor-General, who were to be appointed by the British king for each Dominion. This is because, after this act, Britain was supposed to have no responsibility for the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan.
  • Furthermore, the Indian Independence Act 1947 gave both dominions the freedom to choose the constitution for their respective nations and to oppose any laws enacted by the British government.
  • It abolished the office of the Secretary of State for India, and his functions were transferred to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs.
  • All the Indian princely states were granted freedom to join either the Dominion of India or the Dominion of Pakistan or even choose to remain independent on their own.
  • And also, the act removed the title of Emperor of India from the royal titles of the British Kingdom.

Impact of the Indian Independence Act 1947

The Indian Independence Act 1947 was widely and happily accepted throughout the nation and by both parties, Congress and the Muslim League. The impact of this India independence act on a nationwide level is as follows:

  • Lord Samuel, who was a British Liberal politician, also stated that the Indian Independence Act is a "peace treaty without war".
  • The British and many great Indian leaders, like Dr Rajendra Prasad, also said that, with the end of British rule in India, the further relationship with the British would depend on goodwill and mutual understanding.
  • On the one hand, a large number of people and leaders were happy as this law marked the beginning of free India. Still, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was not happy with the decision of the 2 Nation theory. He stated that August 14th might be a day for Muslims in Pakistan, but it was a day of mourning for the Hindus and the Sikhs.
  • But above all of these likings and dislikings of leaders, the best thing to be acknowledged at that time was that, because of the Indian Independence Act 1947, India became their republic, the Dominion.

Repeal of 18 July 1947 Act

The new Constitution did not give the leaders the legal power to repeal the laws. Still, it was done to break the chain of law to make the constitution an independent legal system.

  • An interesting fact about repealing the Indian Independence Act 1947 is that the British Parliament did not contribute to the repeal process of this act.
  • However, the law empowered both the provinces, India and Pakistan, to repeal any of the acts made by either themselves or the British Parliament.
  • Finally, India and Pakistan repealed the Indian Independence Act 1947 by creating their own constitutions. Article 395 of the Indian Constitution effectively repealed the 18 July 1947 Act.
  • The best thing that could happen was that, with the adoption of the Constitution, India was no longer a Dominion. It became a republican country.

Indian Independence Act 1947 UPSC

The Indian Independence Act 1947 UPSC is an extremely important event in the history of India. It liberated the country from British rule and divided India into two sovereigns. Many questions have been asked about this act in UPSC Prelims and Mains exams. Here is a sample question on the Indian Independence Act 1947 that you can expect in the UPSC Exam.

Question: The Indian National Congress agreed in 1947 to the partition of the country mainly because

  1. The principle of the two-nation theory was then acceptable to them.
  2. It was imposed by the British government, and Congress had no say in the matter.
  3. It was imposed by the British government, and Congress was helpless in this regard.
  4. They wanted to avoid large-scale communal riots.

Answer:- Option 3

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FAQs on Indian Independence Act 1947

  • The Indian Independence Act of 1947 was drafted by the British Parliament to provide a constitutional framework or a plan for the independence of India. More precisely, the Clement Atlee government drafted the Indian Independence Act.

  • The Indian Independence Act 1947 was sanctioned by the British parliament on 18 July 1947, according to which India will be given the status of a free and independent nation from 15 August onwards, and the nation will be divided into two separate countries, India and Pakistan.

  • The Indian Independence Act 1947 was passed by the British Parliament on 18 July 1947. It was passed in British Parliament on 05 July 1947, whereas it received royal assent on 18 July 1947.

    When did the British Parliament pass the Indian Independence Act?

  • There were three main principles of the 18 July 1947 Act-

    1. The Partition of British India was accepted.
    2. Successor governments were to be called dominions.
    3. Both countries have complete autonomy and sovereignty.
  • Mountbatten aimed to create a federal government for India, but with the increasing riots and communal clashes, he realized that to transfer power quickly, the partition was important. So yes, he was related to the Indian Independence Act 1947.

  • Dickie Bird Plan was a plan prepared by Lord Mountbatten for Indian Independence in May 1947. As per this plan, provinces would be designated autonomous successor nations and then given the option of joining or not joining the constituent assembly.

  • The Indian Independence Act, according to Mountbatten's inputs, was introduced in the House of Commons on July 4th, 1947, and was passed within 15 days. This bill provided for the end of British rule finally on August 15, 1947.

    Also Read: What were the Problems Faced by India After its Independence?

  • To download the Indian Independence Act 1947 PDF for the preparation of competitive exams, click on the link added here. It contains all information related to the 18 July 1947 act such as its features, significance, etc.

  • The salient features of the Indian Independence Act 1947 include the following:

    • End of colonial rule in India from 15 August 1947 onwards.
    • The Indian territory is to be divided into two separate nations - India and Pakistan who would be free to design their own constitution and laws.
    • All princely states are given the liberty to choose whether they want to be a part of India or Pakistan or remain independent.
  • The Indian Independence act was given royal assent on 18 July 1947, which is why it is also known as the 18 July 1947 Act.

  • The following are the two important provisions of the Indian Independence Act:

    • The division of India into two dominions - India and Pakistan.
    • Bengal and Punjab are to be divided into both nations.
  • In February 1947, the then-British Prime Minister Clement Atlee announced the act of independence of India, soon after which Muslim League demanded a separate nation for Muslims. Therefore, the Indian Independence Act 1947 provided a set framework for the freedom and partition of India without any riots and communal violence.

  • As per the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947, the states of Bengal and Punjab were proposed to be divided into both India and Pakistan if desired by the people.

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