British Government’s Statement Of 3 June 1947
- On February 20 the, 1947, His Majesty’s Government announced their intention of transferring power in British India to Indian hands by June 1948. His Majesty’s government had hoped that it would be possible for the major parties to co-operate in the working out of the Cabinet Mission’s Plan of May 16th, 1946, and evolve for India a Constitution acceptable to all concerned. This hope has not been constitution acceptable to all concerned. This hope has not been fulfilled.
- The majority of the representatives of the Provinces of Madras, Bombay, the United Provinces, Bihar, Central Provinces, and Berar, Assam, Orissa and the North-West Frontier Provinces, and the representatives of Delhi, Ajmer- Mewara and coorg have already made progress in the task of evolving a new Constitution. On the other hand, the Muslim League Party, including in it a majority of the representatives of Bengal, the Punjab and Sind as also the representative of British Baluchistan, has decided not to participate in the Constituent Assemble.
- It has always been the desire of His Majesty’s government that power should be transferred in accordance with the wishes of the Indian people themselves. This task would have been greatly facilitated if there had been greatly facilitated if there had been agreement among the Indian political parties. In the absence of such agreement, the task of devising a method by which the wishes of the Indian people can be ascertained has devolved upon His Majesty’s Government. After full consultation with political leaders in India, His Majesty’s Government have decided to adopt for this purpose the plan set out below. His Majesty’s Government wish to made it clear that they have no intention of attempting to frame any ultimate Constitution for India; this is a matter for the Indians themselves nor is there anything in this plan to preclude negotiation between communities for a united India.
- It is not the intention of His Majesty’s Government to interrupt the work of the existing Constituent Assembly. Now that provision is made for certain provinces specified below, His Majesty’s Government trust that, as a consequence of this announcement, the Muslim League representatives of those provinces, a majority of whose representatives are already participating in it, will now take their due share in its labour. At the same time it is clear that any constitution framed by this Assembly cannot apply to those parts of the country, which are unwilling to accept it. His Majesty’s Government is satisfied that the procedure outlined below embodies the best method of ascertaining the wishes of the people of such areas on the issue whether their Constitution is to be framed.
- in the existing Constituent Assembly; or in a new and separate Constituent Assembly consisting of the representatives of those areas which decided not to participate in the existing Constituent Assembly.
When this has been done, it will be possible to determine the authority or authorities to whom power should be transferred.
- The Provincial Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab (ex clouding the European members) will, therefore, each be asked to meet in two parts one representing the Muslim majority districts and the other the rest of the province. For the purpose of determining the population of districts the 1941 census figures will be taken as authoritative. The Muslim majority districts in these two provinces are set out in the Appendix to this announcement.
- The members of the two parts of each Legislative Assembly sitting separately will be empowered to vote whether or not the province should be partitioned. If a simple majority of either part decides in favor of partition, division will take place and arrangement will be made accordingly.
- Before the question as to partition is decided, it is desirable that the representative of each part should know in advance which Constituent Assembly the province as a whole would join in the event of the two parts subsequently deciding to remain united. Therefore, if any meeting of all members of the Legislative Assembly (other than Europeans) at which a decision will be taken on the issue as to which Constituent Assembly the province as a whole would join if it were decided by the two parts to remain united.
- In the event of partition being decided upon, each part of the Legislative Assembly will, on behalf of the areas they represent, decide which of the alternatives in paragraph 4 above to adopt.
- For the immediate purpose of decided on the issue of partition, the members of the legislative assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab will sit in two parts according to Muslim majority districts (as laid down in the appendix) and non-Muslim majority districts. This is only a preliminary step of a purely temporary nature as it is evident that for the purposes of final partition of these provinces as detailed investigation of boundary questions will be needed; and as soon as a decision involving partition has been taken for either provinces a boundary commission will be set up by the Governor General, the membership and terms of reference of which will be settled in consultation with those concerned. It will be instructed to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of the Punjab on the basis of ascertaining the contiguous majority areas of Muslims and non-Muslims. It will also be instructed to take into account other factors. Similar instructions will be given to Bengal Boundary Commission., Until the report of a boundary commission has been put into effect, the provisional boundaries indicated in the Appendix will be used.
- The Legislative Assembly of Sind (excluding the European members) will as a special meeting also take its won decision on the alternatives in paragraph 4 above.
- The position of the North-West Frontier Province is exceptional. Two of the three representatives of this province are already participating in the existing Constituent Assembly. But it is clear, in view of its geographical situation and other consideration, that if the whole or any part of the Punjab decided not to join the existing Constituent Assembly, it will be necessary to give the North-West Frontier Province an opportunity to reconsider its position. Accordingly, in such an event a referendum will be made to the electors of the present Legislative Assemble in the North West Frontier Province to choose which of the alternatives mentioned in paragraph 4 above they wish to adopt. The referendum will be held under the aegis of the Governor- General and in consolation with the provincial Government.
- British Baluchistan has elected a member, but he has not taken his seat in the existing Constituent Assembly. In view of its geographical situation, this province will also be given an opportunity to reconsider its position and to choose which of the alternatives in paragraph 4 above to adopt. His Excellency the Governor- General is examining how this can most appropriately be done.
- Though Assam is predominantly a non- Muslim province, the district of Sylhet which is contiguous to Bengal is predominantly Muslim. There has been a demand that, in the event of the partition of Bengal, Sylhet should be amalgamated with the Muslim part of Bengal. Accordingly if it is decided that Bengal should be partitioned, a referendum will be held in sylhet District under the aegis of the Governor-General and in consultation with the Assam Provincial Government to decided whether the district of Sylhet should continue to form part of Assam Province or should be amalgamated with the new province of Eastern Bengal, a boundary commission with terms of reference similar to those for the Punjab and Bengal will be set up to demarcate the Muslim majority areas of Sylhet District and contiguous Muslim majority areas of adjoining districts, which will then be transferred to East Bengal. The rest of Assam Province will in any case continue to participate in the proceedings of the existing Constituent Assembly.
- If it is decided that Bengal and the Punjab should be partitioned, it will be necessary to hold fresh elections to choose their representatives on the scale of one for every million of population according to the principle contained in the Cabinet Mission’s Plan of May 16, 1946. Similar election will also have to be held for Sylhet in the event of it being decided that this district should form part of East Bengal. The number of representatives to which each areas would be entitled is as follow:-
Province General Muslims Sikhs Total
Sylhet District 1 2 Nil 3
West Bengal 15 4 Nil 19
East Bengal 12 29 Nil 41
West Punjab 3 12 2 17
East Punjab 6 4 2 12
- In accordance with the mandates given to them, the representatives of the various areas will either join the existing Constituent Assembly or form the new Constituent Assembly or form the new Constituent Assembly.
- Negotiations will have to be initiated as soon as possible on the administrative consequences of any partition that may have been decided upon:
- Between the representatives and the respective successor authorities about all subjects now dealt with by the Central Government including defence, finance and communications.
- Between different successor authorities and His Majesty’s Government for treaties in regard to matter arising out of the transfer of power.
- In the case of provinces that may be partitioned, as to the administration of all provincial subjects, such as the division of assets and liabilities, the police and other services, the high courts, provincial institutions etc.
- Agreements with tribes of the North-West Frontier of India will have to be negotiated by the appropriate successor authority.
- His Majesty’s Government wish to make it clear that the decisions announced above relate only to British India and that their policy towards Indian States contained in the Cabinet Mission’s memorandum of 12th May, 1946 remains unchanged.
- In order that the successor authorities may have time to prepare themselves to take over power, it is important that all the above processes should be completed as quickly as possible. To avoid delay, the different provinces or parts of provinces will proceed independently as far as practicable with the conditions of this plan. The existing Constituent Assembly and the new Constituent Assembly (if formed) will proceed to frame constitutions for their respective territories; they will, of courses, be free to frame their own rules.
- The major political parties have repeatedly emphasized their desire that there should be the earliest possible transfer of power in India. With this desire His Majesty’s Government are in full sympathy and they are willing to anticipate the date of June 1948, for the handing over of power by the setting up of an Independent Indian Government or Governments at an even earlier date. Accordingly, as the most expeditious, and indeed the only practicable way of meeting this desire, His Majesty’s Government propose to introduce legislation during the current session for the transfer of power this year on a Dominion Status basis to one or two successor authorities according to the decisions taken as a result of this announcement. This will be without prejudice to the right of the Indian Constituent Assemblies to decide in due course whether or not the part 9 India in respect of which they have authority will remain within the British Commonwealth.
His Excellency the Governor-General will from time to time make such further announcements as may be necessary in regard to procedure or any other matters for carrying out the above arrangement.
The Muslim majority districts according to 1941 (Census):
Division – DISTRICT
Lahore – Gujranwala, Gurdaspur, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Sialkot.
Rawalpindi – Attock, Gujrat, Jhelum, Minawali, Rawalpindi, Shapur.
Multan – Dera Ghazi Khan, Jhang, Lyallpur, Montgormery, Multan, Muzaffargarh.
Division – DISTRICT
Chittargong – Chittagong, Noakhali, Tipperah
Dacca – Bakeragang, Dacca, Faridpur, Mymensingh
Presidency- Jessore, Murshidabad, Nadia
Rajshahi – Bogra, Dinajpur, Malda, Pabna, Rajshahi, Rangpur