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The Instrument of Accession was a legal document first introduced by the Government of India Act 1935 and used in 1947 to enable each of the rulers of the princely states under British paramountcy to join one of the new dominions of India or Pakistan created by the Partition of British India.
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565 princely states existed in India during the period of British rule. These were not parts of British India proper, having never become possessions of the British Crown, but were tied to it in a system of subsidiary alliances.
The Government of India Act 1935 introduced the concept of the Instrument of Accession, wherein a ruler of a princely state could accede his kingdom into the 'Federation of India'. The federation concept was initially opposed by the Indian princes, but accession of all the princely states was almost complete when World War II occurred.
In 1947 the British finalised their plans for quitting India, and the question of the future of the princely states was a conundrum for them. As they were not British, they could not be partitioned by the British between the new sovereign nations of India and Pakistan. The Indian Independence Act 1947 provided that the suzerainty of the British Crown over the princely states would simply be terminated, effective 15 August 1947. That would leave the princely states completely independent, even though many of them had been dependent on the Government of India for defence, finance, and other infrastructure. With independence, it would then be a matter for each ruler of a state to decide whether to accede to India, to accede to Pakistan, or to remain independent.
Accession of states to the new Dominions
The Instrument of Accession was the legal document designed to bring about accession, where it was decided upon. It was executed by the Government of India on the one hand and by the rulers of each of the princely states, individually, on the other hand.
Among the more momentous of such accessions was that executed by Maharaja Hari Singh, ruler of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, on 26 October 1947. It gave control of Jammu and Kashmir to the government of India. The accession of Jammu and Kashmir was accepted by Lord Mountbatten of Burma, Governor-General of India, on 27 October 1947. The text (excluding the schedule mentioned in its third point) is as follows:
|“||Whereas the Indian Independence Act 1947, provides that as from the fifteenth day of August, 1947, there shall be set up an Independent Dominion known as India, and that the Government of India Act, 1935 shall, with such omission, additions, adaptations and modifications as the governor-general may by order specify, be applicable to the Dominion of India.
And whereas the Government of India Act, 1935, as so adapted by the governor-general, provides that an Indian State may accede to the Dominion of India by an Instrument of Accession executed by the Ruler thereof.
Now, therefore, I Shriman Inder Mahander Rajrajeswar Maharajadhiraj Shri Hari Singhji, Jammu and Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibbetadi Deshadhipathi, Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir State, in the exercise of my sovereignty in and over my said State do hereby execute this my Instrument of Accession and
Given under my hand this 26th day of OCTOBER nineteen hundred and forty seven.
Maharajadhiraj of Jammu and Kashmir State.
I do hereby accept this Instrument of Accession. Dated this twenty seventh day of October, nineteen hundred and forty seven.
(Mountbatten of Burma, Governor General of India).
- Instrument of Accession of Junagadh
- Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir
- Indian annexation of Hyderabad
- Manavadar State
- "Instrument of Accession executed by Maharajah Hari Singh on October 26, 1947". 26 October 1947. Retrieved 26 August 2012.