Mountbatten Plan, also known as the ‘June 3 Plan‘, was the final plan for Indian Independence. This 3rd June Plan included the principles of partition, autonomy, sovereignty to both India and Pakistan, and the right to make their own Constitution. Both the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League accepted this plan. The Indian Independence Act of 1947 gave legal shape to the Mountbatten Plan.
Background of Mountbatten Plan
On 20 February 1947, the Prime Minister of England, Clement Attlee, declared in the House of Commons that the British Government would grant full self-government to British India by June 30 June 1948. To effect the transition of British India to independence, Attlee decided to send Lord Mountbatten as the ‘Viceroy of India’.
Lord Mountbatten became the Viceroy of India in March 1947 and was assigned the task of speedy transfer of power.
In May 1947, Mountbatten came up with a plan known as the “Dickie Bird Plan“. Under this plan, he proposed that the Provinces be declared independent successor states and then be allowed to choose whether to join the Constituent Assembly or not.
However, when Mountbatten discussed the details of Dickie Bird Plan with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Nehru vehemently opposed it. Nehru told him that it would lead to the Balkanisation of India. Hence, the Dickie Bird Plan was also called “Plan Balkan“.
Then, Lord Mountbatten came up with another plan known as the “June 3 Plan” or “Mountbatten Plan”. It was the final strategy for India’s Independence. Lord Mountbatten announced this Plan on 3 June 1947.
Congress and the Muslim League ultimately approved the Mountbatten Plan. All-Indian Congress Committee ratified this plan on 15 June 1947, while the Muslim League accepted it on 10 June 1947.
Mountbatten Plan came into action by the Indian Independence Act of 1947. The British Parliament enacted the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which received royal assent on 18 July 1947.
This 3rd June Plan included the principles of partition and gave autonomy and sovereignty to both India and Pakistan. It also gave the nations the right to form their own constitutions. Under this Plan, the Princely States, such as Jammu and Kashmir, were given a choice to either join India or Pakistan.
Provisions of the Mountbatten Plan
- The principle of the partition of British India was accepted by the British Government. British India was to be partitioned into two dominions: India and Pakistan.
- The Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly would not apply to the Muslim-Majority areas (as these would become Pakistan).
- The question of a separate Constituent Assembly for the Muslim-Majority areas would be decided.
- Legislative Assemblies of Punjab and Bengal would meet in two groups, Hindus and Muslims, to vote for partition. If a simple majority of either group voted for partition, then these provinces would be partitioned.
- The Legislative Assembly of Sind would decide whether to join the Indian Constituent Assembly or not. (It decided to go to Pakistan).
- A referendum was to be held in NWFP (North-West Frontier Province) and Sylhet district of Assam province to decide which dominion to join. (NWFP decided to join Pakistan. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan boycotted and rejected the referendum).
- The date for the transition of British India to independence was to be 15 August 1947.
- The Princely States were given the right to join either India or Pakistan, based on two major factors: Geographical contiguity and the people’s wishes.
- To fix the international boundaries between the two nations, the Boundary Commission was established under the chairmanship of Sir Cyril Radcliffe. The Commission was to demarcate Punjab and Bengal into the two new nations.
- The British monarch would no longer use the title “Emperor of India“.
- After the dominions were formed, the British Parliament could not enact any law in the territories of the new dominions.
- Until the time the new Constitutions came into existence, the Governor-General would assent any law passed by the Constituent Assemblies of the dominions in His Majesty’s name. The Governor-General was made a constitutional head.
On the midnight of 14 and 15 August 1947, the dominions of Pakistan and India respectively came into existence as two independent states. Lord Mountbatten became the first Governor-General of Independent India. Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the first Governor-General of Pakistan.
The June 3 Plan conceded the demand of the Muslim League to the extent that Pakistan would be created. The Plan also took into account Congress’s position on unity to make Pakistan as small as possible. Mountbatten’s formula was to divide India but retain maximum unity.
Why did Congress accept Dominion Status?
The Congress was willing to accept the dominion status despite its being against the 1929 Lahore Congress Session spirit because:
1. It would ensure a peaceful and quick transfer of power;
2. It was more important for the Congress to assume authority to check the explosive situation;
3. It would allow for some much-needed continuity in the bureaucracy and the army.
Why did British Government offer Dominion Status to India?
For Britain, the dominion status offered a chance to keep India in the Commonwealth, even if temporarily, considering the economic strength, defence potential and greater value of trade and investment in India.
What is the rationale for an early date (15 August 1947) to implement the Mountbatten plan?
The British Government wanted to secure Congress’s agreement on the dominion status. At the same time, the British could escape the responsibility for the communal situation.
Write about the partition of India?
The Mountbatten plan was put into effect without the slightest delay. The Legislative Assemblies of Punjab and Bengal decided in favour of the partition of these two provinces. East Bengal and West Punjab joined Pakistan, while West Bengal and East Punjab remained with the Indian Union.
The referendum of NWFP decided to join Pakistan. The referendum in Sylhet district resulted in the incorporation of that district into East Bengal. Baluchistan and Sindh were also incorporated into Pakistan.