Mountbatten Plan and Indian Independence Act

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Discuss the contribution of Lord Mountbatten

The political condition in India had become worse when Lord Mountbatten arrived in March 1947 as Viceroy. He handled the situation with great skill. He held a discussion with the Indian leaders and came to the conclusion that partition alone could solve the Indian problem. He announced his plan on June 3, 1947 to divide the nation into two parts - India and Pakistan.

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Discuss about the two new dominions of Indian Independence Act

India would be partitioned and two independent Dominions -- India and Pakistan -- would be created from August 15, 1947. The Act provided the legislative supremacy of both the Dominions. Pakistan would comprise Sindh, British Baluchistan, North West Frontier Province, the West Punjab and East Bengal. India was to comprise all the remaining territories included in British India.

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Discuss about the Mountbatten Plan

Lord Mountbatten announced his plan for the partition of India on June 3, 1947. The main points of the plan include partition of India into India and Pakistan, relations of the two Dominions, a Boundary Commission, Princely States, Bengal and Punjab, Sindh and North-West Frontier Province, Constituent Assembly and the transfer of power.

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Provision of Partition

Both Bengal and Punjab would be divided if so desired by the people. A plebiscite would be held in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) as well as Sylhet district (Muslim majority area) in East Bengal to determine whether they would like to join Pakistan or India.

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Governor-General for each dominion

As per the Indian Independence Act 1947, there would be a Governor-General who would be appointed by the British King on the advice of the Cabinet of the concerned Dominion. This arrangement would work till the framing of the Constitutions.

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Constituent Assemblies to serve as Central Legislatures

The Indian Independence Act of 1947 stated that the Constituent Assemblies of both the dominions were to act as the Central Legislatures and would have full powers to make the laws for their respective Dominion. They would act as sovereign bodies for legislative purposes.

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End of jurisdiction of the British Parliament

i) The legislative authority of the British Parliament would cease from August 15, 1947. 
ii) The title of the 'Emperor of India' and the 'King of England' were dropped from the royal style.
iii) Governor-General was given the powers to modify or adopt the Government of India Act 1935 by March 31, 1948.
iv) The right to veto laws was given to the Governor-General.

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Princely states

As per the Indian Independence Act of 1947, the Princely States would become independent and all the powers exercised by the British authority were to be terminated. All treaties and agreements made by the British with reference to States would lapse from August 15, 1947. They would be free to associate themselves with either Dominion or to remain independent.

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Treaties and Agreements

With effect from August 15, 1947, His Majesty's government would cease to have any responsibility for the Government of India. All treaties and agreements between the British government and the rulers of the Indian States or any authority in tribal areas would lapse. 

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Division of the army and the assets

Under the Indian Independence Act of 1947, provisions were made for the division of the Indian army between the two Dominions and steps were to be taken to share the assets and liabilities between the two Dominions.

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Bringing the Act into Operation

The Governor-General was vested with necessary powers for bringing the Indian independence into effective operation.

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Office of Secretary of State and Interest of Existing Officers

Provisions were made for safeguarding the interests of the existing officers appointed by the Secretary of State. The office of the Secretary of State for India was abolished.

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Independence by an Act of Legislation

Referring to the Indian Independence Act (1947), the then Secretary of State for India remarked, "The bill is unique in the history of legislation of this country. Never before has such a large portion of the world population achieved complete independence through legislation." The Act marked the end of the British rule in India. The Dominions of India and Pakistan came into existence on August 15, 1947. India became a Republic on January 26, 1950.