Towards Independence, 1947

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Here we will be covering seven major developments and these developments are as under,

  1. The Constituent Assembly of 1946
  2. Civil Disobedience-Movement. In the beginning of 1947
  3. British Announcement of February 20, 1947
  4. Appointment of Mountbatten as the last Viceroy of India, March, 1947
  5. The June 3rd Plan
  6. Indian Independence Act of July, 1947 and the last is the
  7. The Partition Process

The Constituent Assembly of 1946:

Let, s take up the first development the Constituent Assembly of 1946. You would recall that in the previous lecture we talked about the cabinet mission plan and the setting up of the interim govt. and the politics around the setting up of the interim govt. One of the recommendations of the cabinet mission plan was that a constituent assembly will be set up in India. Accordingly in July 1946 that Constituent Assembly was elected directly through the provincial assemblies and the ML won all but five Muslim seats and once again it assured that it enjoyed the support of the Muslims of this Sub-Continent.

The first session of the CA was convened on 9th December 1946 and the ML boycotted the session , the reason was that the ML demanded two constituent assemblies rather than one assembly. One for India and the second for Pakistan therefore it did not attend the first session and the Congress members went there and held the session. In the beginning of the 1947 this CA passed an Objectives Resolution for the constitution of India but the ML was out of the Assembly. In this way that CA could not really perform the task because the ML wanted a separate CA for Pakistan.

Now coming to the developments since the beginning of the 1947 and the first development is the

Civil Disobedience-Movement in the beginning of 1947:

If you look at the tack record of the ML you will find that it struggled for the protection and promotion of the Muslim rights and then for the establishment of a separate state, was essentially a constitutional struggle and within the frame of law. However in Aug, 1946 when the Congress Party did not accept all the provisions of the Cabinet mission plan while the ML accepted the cabinet mission plan with reservations but the Congress Party said that it would go only into the CA but then it is free to frame any type of constitution and then the question of interim govt because of that the ML decided to withdraw its approval from the Cabinet Mission Plan and then it decided to go to the people to explain its point of view to the common people, so it was for the first time that the ML was officially adopting a policy of mass or popular protest in the streets and that kind of movement or explanation was made on 16th August 1946 when the ML held meetings and protest marches in different provinces and unfortunately in Bengal and in Calcutta those movements or activity resulted in a lot of violence, as the Hindus attacked on the Muslims and there was great violence in Bengal and in Calcutta. So it was the first ML, s effort at the mass level to mobilize the ordinary people to its point of view relating to the Cabinet Mission Plan,

The ML decided to confront the political situation through the protesting means for the first time. The Congress had been working on these lines but the Muslim leaders considered politics a gentle man’s game. Now when the British government joined hands to oust the Muslims from the constitutional and moral position they decided to launch ‘Direct Action.’ The ML revised its decision rejecting the Cabinet Mission Plan. Direct Action Day (August 16, 1946) was a protest against the British policy of injustice towards the Muslims. The Hindu attacks transmuted the course of the protests and concluded huge life casualties. The Calcutta massacre convinced Lord Wavell to bridge the ML-Congress to some settlement.

Wavell tried to prepare Nehru and Gandhi to coordinate the ML. It was imperative to do because Muslim League (95% seats) refused to join the Legislative Assembly. Congress rejected all the possible offers even from the government. Churchill snubbed the Labour government on the Calcutta riots and the Viceroy requested Jinnah to join the Interim Government that Jinnah accepted. On October 25, 1946, the members of the Executive Council were finalized.


ML had bagged 79 out of 86 seats in Punjab but Khizar Hayat Tiwana formed his government with the help of Hindu and Sikh members (Unionist). The ML confronted this conspiracy and protested to restore the people’s will (Feb. 1947). The Punjab government dealt with the situation cruelly. Here the Muslim women played very outstanding role in the ML struggle. The Khizar Government resigned and Governor’s rule was imposed on March 2, 1947.

In the beginning of the 1947, it launched popular movements at the provincial level. In January and February 1947 it launched agitation and street protest against the govt of the Khizar Hayat Tiwana in Punjab and for about two months ML was holding processions meetings and protests in different parts of the Punjab and asking the resignation of the govt of Sir Khizar Hayat Tiwana.

In view of this popular upsurge on the 2nd March 1947 the Khizar ministry resigned and the governor imposed governor rule in the province that is instead of establishing a new govt led by the ML the governor was directly ruling and this was in the beginning of March, 1947.


In case of the NWFP, the Khudai Khidmatgars supported by Congress were ruling. In Feb, the ML started movement, protest marches and agitations and this movement against the frontier govt went on until the beginning of June. On June 3rd when the British announced the plan for partition of India and this movement was called off but there were confrontation between frontier govt and the ML for one or two months


In case of Assam, Maulana Bhashani launched a movement for the Muslim tenants against the Hindu landlords to protest against the ejection of Muslim peasants. In movement was successful in the sense that all those mistreatment extended to the tenants had to be done away with,

The impact of these movements whether in Punjab, NWFP or in Assam, the ML was able to demonstrate its strength at the popular level, at the common man level that in the streets. It held sway over the minds and thinking’s of the Muslims. In a way this was a reassertion of the performance which it had made in the 1946 elections, but especially in Punjab it was important that the league demonstrated its strength in the streets because in Punjab there was a Unionist ministry and the same was the case in the frontier province where there was a non ML govt or ministry. Now we move on to the 3rd issue and that is the,

Announcement of February 20, 1947

This announcement of February 20 was a very important announcement because that announcement showed that the British govt showed that the British govt in due course of time would withdraw from India and India would become an independent state, therefore it was a very significant statement by the British govt and this statement was made by the Prime Minister Attlee who declared that his govt and that was the labor govt in London and that his govt was working for the self government in India. And by June 1948 all powers in India would be transferred to the representatives.

Another point made in this statement was that if constitution was framed the British govt will have to think that whether certain powers were to be given to the provincial govt or any alternative is to be found that is in interest of the people of India. This was an important part of the announcement that if no single constitution is to be framed then the British govt will think to whom powers would be given in certain provinces in the interests of the people of India.

Here the issue was clear that ultimately India would get independence by June 1948 and then the question or possibility of acceptance of ML demands was there although there was no commitment there. Another part of this announcement was that Lord Mountbatten who was a member of the Royal Family of the British was appointed as Viceroy.

Mountbatten as Viceroy

He was given this assignment through the announcement of Feb; 1947 and Mountbatten arrived in Delhi on March 22, 1947 to assume the office of the Viceroy and to become the last viceroy of India. The basic objective of his appointment was to wind up British rule. Soon after coming to India he arranged dialogue with the Indian leaders the ML leaders, the Congress leaders and other leaders of India because the issue had become very serious that is if independence is to be granted to India whether it would be united India or the ML demand for a separate homeland for Pakistan is to be accepted and after the developments with reference to the Cabinet Mission Plan that is to say that the ML was not willing to accept any other formula rather than Pakistan, otherwise they were willing to go for accommodation under the cabinet mission plan in the hope that ultimately Pakistan will be established. After consultation with the Indian leaders he visited England for deliberations for new plan. He consulted with the British govt and returned to India to present a plan for partition of India, the plan that is often described as the June 3rd plan. In, fact this plan was shown to the Indian leaders on 2nd of June in the evening and this was the announcement which the Viceroy Mountbatten made on the 3rd of June wherein the British gave the idea of partition of India and how that partition was to take place and its framework was given in this plan and that is why the June 3rd plan becomes important for the partition of British India.

Third June Plan:

What were the significant points of the June 3rd plan?


  • The British govt declared that it will not impose a constitution in India but the Constituent Assembly will frame a constitution.

Constitution assembly:

  • The constitution will not be imposed on the areas that do not accept it. Opinion will be sought from them if they want to set up a separate CA (Constituent Assembly). So there would be a separate CA for the regions or the provinces that do not want to be part of one constitution.

Punjab and Bengal assemblies:

  • Punjab & Bengal Assemblies will meet in two parts, members from Muslim majority areas and other districts separately to decide if the province be partitioned.


  • If any part of the assembly decides for partition, then the assembly will also decide that whether it wants to be a part of the new CA or the old CA, each group will decide which CA they wish to join.


  • For the province of Sindh the Plan provided Sindh Assembly will decide about joining either side.


  • Situation in NWFP was somewhat complicated, here a non ML govt was functioning which was not supportive of the partition of India, and establishing a separate Muslim state, therefore the June 3rd plan provided that a Referendum would be held in NWFP.


  • For Baluchistan: it was provided that an appropriate method would be adopted to know the opinion there. I may mention here that the Baluchistan was not a full province at that time

Boundary commission:

  • A Boundary Commission would be appointed for demarcation in the Punjab and Bengal that the boundaries of these two provinces would be determined by a boundary commission

Princely states:

  • The last significant provision of the June 3rd plan was about the princely states Princely states will have to decide for themselves whether they want to join Pakistan or India keeping in view their geographical contiguity where they are located and then they will have to decide about their political future.

Point’s comments

So this was the June 3rd plan whose main points are highlighted here, we can say that the June 3rd plan was a kind of decision which the British made about the political future of India and it envisaged partition. In a way it was an indirect acceptance of Pakistan because it left on the assemblies to decide whether they want to become part of India or Pakistan. So it was in a way a way-out for the establishment of Pakistan. The Ml accepted and Q.A. speaks on all India for the first time and concluded with Pakistan zinda abad. The Congress also accepted it with hard heart. Now this plan was to give a legal shape,

Indian Independence Act July 1947:


To give legal shape to the June 3 Plan, the Indian Independence Act was promulgated (July 1947). In other words to give legal shape to the June 3rd plan this law which is called as the Indian independence Act was promulgated. The British were winding up their rule in India through constitutional and legal means and that was done through this Act as I earlier said passed by the British parliament and it was passed by the British parliament. What were the provisions of this Act?

Two independent dominion states:

  • The first and the most significant provision of this Act was that two independent dominion states would be established in India on August 15, 1947. Here two things are important for our understanding, first the date for independence for Pakistan and India was given 15th August 1947, if we go back to Feb., announcement we find that Lord Attlee said that there would be self govt in India by June 1948, In other words the date was advanced.

The dominion status:

  • The 2nd point here is the dominion state or the dominion status, this means practically an independent state, the only difference is the dominion which is the British common wealth system, the state owe their allegiance to the British Crown although the British Crown cannot interfere in day to day affairs of the states, therefore the grant of the status of the dominion state both to India and Pakistan meant that they will be fully independent and sovereign states.


  • 3rd important provision of this act was that their legislatures will have all powers to make laws for the respective states that is Indian legislature for India Pakistani legislature for Pakistan.

The government of India act 1935:

  • The 4th important provision of this act was that the Government of India Act, 1935, to be interim constitution of these states, subject to changes due to Indian Independence Act 1947.

The Governor General:

  • Another provision was that the Governor Generals can amend the Interim Constitution until March 31, 1948. to deal with difficult and emergency situations.

Princely status:

  • It said that All arrangements between the British and the Princely states to come to an end and they are free to have new arrangements with the new states or the successor states which are India and Pakistan.

The king of India:

  • The provision of this Act was that the British King will no longer use the title of the King of India.

The interim constitution:

Now if we look at the provisions of this Act on the bases of which India and Pakistan came into existence as independent and sovereign states, I may refer back to the reference of the govt of India Act 1935. Indian independence Act declared that the govt of India Act 1935 will be the interim constitution of both the countries India and Pakistan. This Act of 1935 was passed by the British parliament in 1935 and in 1937 its provincial part was introduced and its federal part was never introduced in India. An important provision of this act was that no legislature central or the provincial could amend this law but only the British parliament can amend this act of 1935. Once this Act was passed its position changed all together. From 15, August 1947 the Indian and Pakistani legislature were given the rights to amend this constitution as they wished.

The first Interim constitution of Pakistan:

It also provided that the GG can also bring some changes in the Govt of India Act in order to deal with the situation as it existed at that time. In other words the 1st interim constitution of Pakistan was the govt of India Act 1935 as adopted in Pakistan in the light of the Indian independence Act 1947 and this is also described as the interim constitution of Pakistan because from 15th August this constitution became operative and the same was the case with India. In both these countries this constitution began to function until they had their own constitution. Now we move on to the last section of our lecture today or how the June 3rd plan as Indian Independence Act of 1947 were actually implemented and that is the partition process how Indian independence Act became a reality and two independent states came into existence.

The Partition Process


In the case of Punjab, The Punjab Legislative Assembly held its session in Lahore and its members and the members from Muslim and Non-Muslim members met separately. The Muslim members favoured joining new CA which means they opted for Pakistan. The non-Muslims voted for partition of Punjab and joining India and Punjab was partitioned.


Same procedure applied to the Bengal Assembly the Muslim members favoured joining new CA while non-Muslims favoured partitioning and joining India. In other words the Bengal Assembly opted for Pakistan.


In case of Sindh the Sindh Assembly voted to join Pakistan. In this way Sindh became part of Pakistan.


Here the Indian Independence Act provided for a referendum and the registered voters wanted to join Pakistan or India. Avery clear majority voted to join Pakistan. Although the govt in the province was not in favour of joining Pakistan. Referendum decided in favour of Pakistan while Dr. Khan’s govt. boycotted it after it became clear that it would lose. And the Khudai Khidmargaar wanted a 3rd option to be given but there was no provision for that therefore Referendum brought NWFP into Pakistan.


Baluchistan was not a full province at that time so the procedures adopted for the other provinces could not be adopted for Baluchistan. Whatever democratic system existed was used there, the elected members of Quetta Municipal Committee were asked to vote and they voted overwhelmingly for Pakistan. In addition to this Shahi Jirga was held where tribal chiefs participated and they also opted to join Pakistan and so far as the states were concerned they for Pakistan later on.


For Sylhet district a Referendum was held to join East Bengal and East Bengal had already opted to join Pakistan.

If you look at the procedure which I have explained to you it becomes very clear that differences that opted through a democratic process for Pakistan. The democratic system as it was existed at that time. The voters that were registered at that time, they participated in Referendum and in case of Baluchistan whatever participatory system was there was used. So, in other words Pakistan comes into existence through a democratic process and the democratic institutions which existed at that time were brought into and only then Pakistan came into existence and it was commendable and it was the result of a political struggle and an exercise of the democratic rights of the people of the area that constituted Pakistan.

Governor General’s Issue:

Mountbatten wanted to be joint GG (Governor General) of India and Pakistan while ML decided to appoint Jinnah as the first Governor General of Pakistan in July.

Transfer of Power:

Now let me say few words about the transfer of Power. Q.A. reached Karachi one weak before

1st meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held on August 11, 1947 and the CA comprised the members from the districts. Q>A. addressed the CA and was elected as the president of the CA the ceremonies for transfer of power were held on August 14. Since Mountbatten was in both ceremonies in Delhi and in Karachi. Although the ceremonies for transfer of power were held on August 14th but Q. A. took oath as the first GG of Pakistan on the morning of 15th August. The first cabinet led by Liaquat Ali Khan was also sworn in on August, 15. On the midnight of August 14 and 15 Radio announcement was made and Pakistan came into existence as an independent state but we celebrate August 14th as the Independence Day because on that day ceremonies for transfer for power were held.

Boundaries determined on August 17:

Boundaries Commission award declared many controversial decisions about certain areas like Gurdaspur, Zira Tehsil etc, but the ML accepted it with protest.


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