The Union And Its Territory

The Union And Its Territory

The first Article of the Constitution declares that India is a Union of States. This implies:

  • The Indian Federation was not the result of an agreement among the units.
  • The component units had no freedom to secede from the Union.

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Under Article 2, the Parliament of India is empowered to admit into the Union, or establish new States on terms and conditions it thinks fit. Thus, it may form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State.

In the process, it can increase or decrease the area of any State, or alter the boundaries, or change the name of any State (Article3). Although the power of Parliament in this respect is exclusive, the Constitution provides for a procedure that enables the legislatures of the States concerned to express their opinion in the matter.

According to this, every Bill contemplating any of the above changes can be introduced in Parliament only on the recommendation of the President and after prior reference by the President to the Legislature of the State concerned for its opinion. The procedure thus helps Parliament to have in view the sentiments of the people of the State concerned before taking a final decision.

Any such change made by Parliament and the consequent alterations effected in the Constitution will not amount to an amendment of the Constitution (Article 4). The First Schedule as adopted by the Constituent Assembly and incorporated in the Constitution mentioned four categories of States and Territories – Part A, Part B and Part C States and Part D territories.

Part A included the nine erstwhile provinces of British India. The princely States with legislatures were put in Part B, which listed five States. Part C included five centrally administered States.

The territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands was mentioned in Part D. During the years following the commencement of the Constitution, the map underwent considerable changes. Andhra was created as a separate State on the linguistic basis by the Andhra Act, 1953.

Finally, the reorganization of States under the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956 abolished the distinction between Part A and Part B States. Subsequently, several new states were formed, e.g., Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa. As at present, the Schedule lists the following 28 states and 7 Union Territories:

The States:

(1) Andhra Pradesh, 2) Assam 3) Arunachal Pradesh, 4) Bihar, 5) Chattisgarh, 6) Goa, 7) Gujarat, 8) Haryana, 9) Himachal Pradesh, 10) Jammu & Kashmir, 11) Jharkhand, 12) Karnataka, 13) Kerala, 14) Madhya Pradesh 15) Maharashtra, 16) Manipur, 17) Meghalaya, 18) Mizoram, 19) Nagaland, 20) Orissa, 21) Punjab, 22) Rajasthan, 23) Sikkim, 24). Tamil Nadu, 25) Tripura, 26) Uttaranchal 27) Uttar Pradesh, 28) West Bengal.

Union Territories:

1) Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 2) Chandigarh, 3) Dadra and Nagar Haveli, 4) Daman and Diu; 51 Delhi (now named the National Capital Territory), 6) Lakshadweep, 7) Pondicherry. The question of the name of the country was discussed in the Constituent Assembly at some length. While ‘Bharat was the ancient name and represented the first expression of the consciousness of the unity and identity of the country, India was the modern name by which the country had since become known all over the world. As a member of the United Nations also the name was India and all international agreements were entered in that name. Both the names, therefore had strong votaries. Finally, the name India, that is Bharat was adopted as a happy compromise.

In the Berubari case, on a presidential reference, the Supreme Court expressed the opinion that no cession of territory could be made without a constitutional amendment. To give effect to an agreement with Pakistan for transfer of part of the Berubari territory, ‘therefore, the Constitution (Ninth Amendment) Act was passed.

The ease with which the map of India has been redrawn and reorganization of States affected during the last four decades and more bears eloquent testimony to the unique resilience and flexibility of the Constitution and vindicates the need and the justification for articles 2,3 and 4.

On the other hand, there have been strong views expressed on the wisdom or otherwise of the reorganization of states on linguistic lines. Also, demands for further reorganization have become an unending phenomenon and there is a body of opinion in favour of a much larger number of small States.

National Capital Territory Of Delhi

As per the 69th Constitution (Amendment) Act, 1999, the Union Territory of Delhi is now known as the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The Act has not given the state of Statehood to Delhi. It still continues to be a Union Territory, but in Delhi a Legislative Assembly of 70 members with limited powers has been provided. The administrator of Delhi is called Lt. Governor. He is appointed by the President and he is responsible to the President.

For the administration of Delhi, besides the Lt. Governor, there shall be a Council of Ministers whose membership will not exceed ten per cent of the total membership of the Legislative Assembly. In this way, there can be seven ministers including the Chief Minister. The special thing about the Council of Ministers is that following the election, the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the President and other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Chief Minister and the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President. The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly.

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