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Union and its Territory

Articles 1 to 4 under Part-I of the Constitution deal with the Union and its territory.

Article 1 describes India, that is, Bharat as a ‘Union of States’ rather than a ‘Federation of States’.
This provision deals with two things: one, name of the country, and two, type of polity.
There was no unanimity in the Constituent Assembly with regard to the name of the country. Some
members suggested the traditional name (Bharat) while other advocated the modern name (India).

Hence, the Constituent Assembly had to adopt a mix of both (‘India, that is, Bharat’)
Secondly, the country is described as ‘Union’ although its Constitution is federal in structure.
According to Dr B R Ambedkar, the phrase ‘Union of States’ has been preferred to ‘Federation of
States’ for two reasons: one, the Indian Federation is not the result of an agreement among the states
like the American Federation; and two, the states have no right to secede from the federation. The
federation is an Union because it is indestructible. The country is an integral whole and divided into
different states only for the convenience of administration1.

According to Article 1, the territory of India can be classified into three categories:
1. Territories of the states
2. Union territories
3. Territories that may be acquired by the Government of India at any time.
The names of states and union territories and their territorial extent are mentioned in the first schedule
of the Constitution. At present, there are 28 states and 7 union territories. The provisions of the
Constitution pertaining to the states are applicable to all the states (except Jammu and Kashmir)2 in
the same manner. However, the special provisions (under Part XXI) applicable to the States of
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunanchal
Pradesh and Goa override the general provisi-ons relating to the states as a class. Further, the Fifth
and Sixth Schedules contain separate provi-sions with respect to the administration of sche-duled
areas and tribal areas within the states.

Notably, the ‘Territory of India’ is a wider expression than the ‘Union of India’ because the latter
includes only states while the former includes not only the states but also union territories and
territories that may be acquired by the Government of India at any future time. The states are the
members of the federal system and share a distribution of powers with the Centre. The union
territories and the acquired territories, on the other hand, are directly administered by the Central

Being a sovereign state, India can acquire foreign territories according to the modes recognised by
international law, i.e., cession (following treaty, purchase, gift, lease or plebiscite), occupation
(hitherto unoccupied by a recognised ruler), conquest or subjugation. For example, India acquired
several foreign territories such as Dadra and Nagar Haveli; Goa, Daman and Diu; Puducherry; and
Sikkim since the commencement of the Constitution. The acquisition of these territories are discussed
later in this chapter.

Article 2 empowers the Parliament to ‘admit into the Union of India, or establish, new states on such
terms and conditions as it thinks fit’. Thus, Article 2 grants two powers to the Parliament: (a) the
power to admit into the Union of India new states; and (b) the power to establish new states. The first
refers to the admission of states which are already in existence while the second refers to the
establishment of states which were not in existence before. Notably, Article 2 relates to the admission
or establishment of new states that are not part of the Union of India. Article 3, on the other hand,
relates to the formation of or chan-ges in the existing states of the Union of India. In other words,
Article 3 deals with the internal re-adjustment inter se of the territories of the constituent states of the
Union of India.

Article 3 authorises the Parliament to:
(a) 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,
(b) increase the area of any state,
(c) diminish the area of any state,
(d) alter the boundaries of any state, and
(e) alter the name of any state.

However, Article 3 lays down two conditions in this regard: one, a bill contemplating the above
changes can be introduced in the Parliament only with the prior recommendation of the President; and
two, before recommending the bill, the President has to refer the same to the state legistature
concerned for expressing its views within a specified period.

Further, the power of Parliament to form new states includes the power to form a new state or union
territory by uniting a part of any state or union territory to any other state or union territory3.
The President (or Parliament) is not bound by the views of the state legislature and may either accept
or reject them, even if the views are received in time. Further, it is not necessary to make a fresh
reference to the state legislature every time an amendment to the bill is moved and accepted in
Parliament4. In case of a union territory, no reference need be made to the concerned legislature to
ascertain its views and the Parliament can itself take any action as it deems fit.

It is thus clear that the Constitution authori-ses the Parliament to form new states or alter the areas,
boundaries or names of the existing states without their consent. In other words, the Parliament can
redraw the political map of India according to its will. Hence, the territorial integrity or continued
existence of any state is not guaranteed by the Constitution. Therefore, India is rightly described as
‘an indestructible union of destructible states’. The Union government can destroy the states whereas
the state governments cannot destroy the Union.

In USA, on the other hand, the territorial integrity or
continued existence of a state is guaranteed by the Constitution. The American Federal government
cannot form new states or alter the borders of existing states without the consent of the states
concerned. That is why the USA is described as ‘an indestructible union of indestructible states.’
Moreover, the Constitution (Article 4) itself declares that laws made for admission or establishment
of new states (under Article 2) and formation of new states and alteration of areas, boundaries or
names of existing states (under Articles 3) are not to be considered as amendments of the Constitution
under Article 368. This means that such laws can be passed by a simple majority and by the ordinary
legislative process.

Does the power of Parliament to diminish the areas of a state (under Article 3) include also the
power to cede Indian territory to a foreign country? This question came up for examination before the
Supreme Court in a reference made by the President in 1960. The decision of the Central government
to cede part of a territory known as Berubari Union (West Bengal) to Pakistan led to political
agitation and controversy and thereby necessitated the Presidential reference. The Supreme Court
held that the power of Parliament to diminish the area of a state (under Article 3) does not cover
cession of Indian territory to a foreign country. Hence, Indian territory can be ceded to a foreign state
only by amending the Constitution under Article 368. Consequently, the 9th Constitutional Amendment
Act (1960) was enacted to transfer the said territory to Pakistan.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court in 1969 ruled that, settlement of a boundary dispute between
India and another country does not require a constitutional amendment. It can be done by executive
action as it does not involve cession of Indian territory to a foreign country.

Integration of Princely States
At the time of independence, India com-prised two categories of political units, namely, the British
provinces (under the direct rule of British government) and the princely states (under the rule of
native princes but subject to the para-mountcy of the British Crown). The Indian Independence Act
(1947) created two independent and separate dominions of India and Pakistan and gave three options
to the princely states viz., joining India, joining Pakistan or remaining independent. Of the 552
princely states situated within the geogra-phical boundaries of India, 549 joined India and the
remaining 3 (Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir) refused to join India. However, in course of time,
they were also integrated with India—Hyderabad by means of police action, Junagarh by means of
referendum and Kashmir by the Instrument of Accession.

In 1950, the Constitution contained a four-fold classification of the states of the Indian Union—Part
A, Part B, Part C and Part D State5. In all, they numbered 29. Part-A states comprised nine erstwhile
governor’s provinces of British India. Part-B states consisted of nine erstwhile princely states with
legislatures. Part-C states consisted of erstwhile chief com-missioner’s provinces of British India and
some of the erstwhile princely states. These Part-C states (in all 10 in number) were centrally
administered. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands were kept as the solitary Part-D state.

Dhar Commission and JVP Committee
The integration of princely states with the rest of India has purely an ad hoc arrangement. There has
been a demand from different regions, particularly South India, for reorgani-sation of states on
linguistic basis. Accordingly, in June 1948, the Government of India appointed the Linguistic
Provinces Commission under the chairmanship of S K Dhar to examine the feasibility of this. The
commission submitted its report in December 1948 and recommended the reorganisation of states on
the basis of administrative convenience rather than linguistic factor. This created much resentment
and led to the appointment of another Linguistic Provinces Committee by the Congress in December
1948 itself to examine the whole question afresh. It consisted of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallahbhai Patel
and Pattabhi Sitaramayya and hence, was popularly known as JVP Committee6. It submitted its report
in April 1949 and formally rejected language as the basis for reorganisation of states.
However, in October 1953, the Government of India was forced to create the first linguistic state,
known as Andhra state, by separating the Telugu speaking areas from the Madras state. This followed
a prolonged popular agitation and the death of Potti Sriramulu, a Congress person of standing, after a
56-day hunger strike for the cause.
Fazl Ali Commission
The creation of Andhra state intensified the demand from other regions for creation of states on
linguistic basis. This forced the Government of India to appoint (in December 1953) a three-member
States Reorganisation Commission under the chairmanship of Fazl Ali to re-examine the whole
question. Its other two members were K M Panikkar and H N Kunzru. It submitted its report in
September 1955 and broadly accepted language as the basis of reorganisation of states. But, it
rejected the theory of ‘one language–one state’. Its view was that the unity of India should be
regarded as the primary consideration in any redrawing of the country’s political units. It identified
four major factors that can be taken into account in any scheme of reorganisation of states:
(a) Preservation and strengthening of the unity and security of the country.
(b) Linguistic and cultural homogeneity.
(c) Financial, economic and administrative considerations.
(d) Planning and promotion of the welfare of the people in each state as well as of the nation as a

The commission suggested the abolition of the four-fold classification of states under the original
Constitution and creation of 16 states and 3 centrally administered territories. The Government of
India accepted these recommendations with certain minor modifications. By the States Reorganisation
Act (1956) and the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act (1956), the distinction between Part-A and
Part-B states was done away with and Part-C states were abolished. Some of them were merged with
adjacent states and some other were designated as union territories. As a result, 14 states and 6 union
territories were created on November 1, 1956.7
New States and Union Territories Created After 1956
Even after the large-scale reorganisation of the states in 1956, the political map of India underwent
continuous change due to the pressure of popular agitations and political conditions. The demand for
the creation of some more states on the basis of language or cultural homogeneity resulted in the
bifurcation of existing states.

Maharashtra and Gujarat In 1960, the bilingual state of Bombay was divided8 into two separate
states—Maharashtra for Marathi-speaking people and Gujarat for Gujarati-speaking people. Gujarat
was established as the 15th state of the Indian Union.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli The Portuguese ruled this territory until its liberation in 1954.
Subsequently, the administration was carried on till 1961 by an administrator chosen by the people
themselves. It was converted into a union territory of India by the 10th Constitutional Amendment Act,

Goa, Daman and Diu India acquired these three territories from the Portuguese by means of a police
action in 1961. They were constituted as a union territory by the 12th Constitutional Amendment Act,
1962. Later, in 1987, Goa was conferred a statehood.9 Consequently, Daman and Diu was made a
separate union territory.

Puducherry The territory of Puducherry comprises the former French establishments in India known
as Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. The French handed over this territory to India in 1954.
Subsequently, it was administered as an ‘acquired territory’, till 1962 when it was made a union
territory by the 14th Constitutional Amendment Act.

Nagaland In 1963, the State of Nagaland was formed10 by taking the Naga Hills and Tuensang area
out of the state of Assam. This was done to satisfy the movement of the hostile Nagas. However,
before giving Nagaland the status of the 16th state of the Indian Union, it was placed under the control
of governor of Assam in 1961.

Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh In 1966, the State of Punjab was bifurcated11 to create
Haryana, the 17th state of the Indian Union, and the union territory of Chandigarh. This followed the
demand for a separate ‘Sikh Homeland’ (Punjabi Subha) raised by the Akali Dal under the
leadership of Master Tara Singh. On the recommendation of the Shah Commission (1966), the
punjabi- speaking areas were constituted into the unilingual state of Punjab, the Hindi-speaking areas
were constituted into the State of Haryana and the hill areas were merged with the adjoining union
territory of Himachal Pradesh. In 1971, the union territory of Himachal Pradesh was elevated12 to the
status of a state (18th state of the Indian Union).

Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya In 1972, the political map of Northeast India underwent a major
change.13 Thus, the two Union Territories of Manipur and Tripura and the Sub-State of Meghalaya got
statehood and the two union territories of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh (originally known as
North-East Frontier Agency—NEFA) came into being. With this, the number of states of the Indian
Union increased to 21 (Manipur 19th, Tripura 20th and Meghalaya 21st). Initially, the 22nd
Constitutional Amendment Act (1969) created Meghalaya as an ‘autonomous state’ or ‘sub-state’
within the state of Assam with its own legislature and council of ministers. However, this did not
satisfy the aspirations of the people of Meghalaya. The union territories of Mizoram and Arunachal
Pradesh were also formed out of the territories of Assam.

Sikkim Till 1947, Sikkim was an Indian princely state ruled by Chogyal. In 1947, after the lapse of
British paramountcy, Sikkim became a ‘protectorate’ of India, whereby the Indian Government
assumed responsibility for the defence, external affairs and communications of Sikkim. In 1974,
Sikkim expressed its desire for greater association with India. Accordingly, the 35th Constitutional
Amendment Act (1974) was enacted by the parliament. This amendment introduced a new class of
statehood under the constitution by conferring on Sikkim the status of an ‘associate state’ of the Indian
Union. For this purpose, a new Article 2A and a new schedule (Tenth Schedule conseriving the terms
and conditions of association) were inserted in the Constitution. This experiment, however, did not
last long as it could not fully satisfy the aspirations of the people of Sikkim. In a referendum held in
1975, they voted for the abolition of the institution of Chogyal and Sikkim becoming an integral part
of India. Consequently, the 36th Constitutional Amendment Act (1975) was enacted to make Sikkim a
full-fledged state of the Indian Union (the 22nd state). This amendment amended the First and the
Fourth Schedules to the Constitution and added a new Article 371-F to provide for certain special
provisions with respect to the administration of Sikkim. It also repealed Article 2A and the Tenth
Schedule that were added by the 35th Amendment Act of 1974.

Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa In 1987, three new States of Mizoram,14 Arunachal
Pradesh15 and Goa16 came into being as the 23rd, 24th and 25th states of the Indian Union
respectively. The Union Territory of Mizoram was conferred the status of a full state as a sequel to
the signing of a memorandum of settlement (Mizoram Peace Accord) in 1986 between the Central
government and the Mizo National Front, ending the two-decade-old insurgency. Arunachal Pradesh
had also been a union territory from 1972. The State of Goa was created by separating the territory of
Goa from the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu.

Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand In 2000, three more new States of Chhattisgarh,17
Uttarakhand18 and Jharkhand19 were created out of the territories of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh
and Bihar respectively. These became the 26th, 27th and 28th states of the Indian Union respectively.
Thus, the number of states and union territories increased from 14 and 6 in 1956 to 28 and 7 in 2000

Change of Names The names of some states and union territories have also been changed. The
United Provinces was the first state to have a new name. It was renamed ‘Uttar Pradesh’ in 1950. In
1969, Madras was renamed21 ‘Tamil Nadu’. Similarly, in 1973, Mysore was renamed 22 ‘Karnataka’.
In the same year, Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands were renamed23 ‘Lakshadweep’. In 1992,
the Union Territory of Delhi was redesignated as the National Capital Territory of Delhi (without
being conferred the status of a full-fledged state) by the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1991.24
In 2006, Uttaranchal was renamed25 as ‘Uttarakhand’. In the same year, Pondicherry was renamed26
as ‘Puducherry’.


1. Constituent Assembly Debates, volume 7, P, 43.
2. The State of Jammu and Kashmir enjoys a special position by virtue of Article 370 of the
Indian Constitution. It has its own separate State Constitution.
3. Added by the 18th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1966.
4. Babulal v. State of Bombay (1960).
5. See Table 5.1 at the end of this chapter.
6. It had no chairman or convenor.
7. See Table 5.2 at the end of this chapter.
8. By the Bombay Reorganisation Act, 1960.
9. By the Goa, Daman and Diu Reorganisation Act, 1987.
10. By the State of Nagaland Act, 1962, with effect from December 1, 1963.
11. By Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.
12. By the State of Himachal Pradesh Act, 1970, with effect from January 25, 1971.
13. By the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971, with effect from January 21, 1972.
14. By the State of Mizoram Act, 1986, with effect from February 20, 1987.
15. By the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986, with effect from February 20, 1987.
16. By the Goa, Daman and Diu Reorganisation Act, 1987.
17. By the Madhya Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2000.
18. By the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2000.
19. By the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000.
20. See Table 5.3 at the end of this chapter.
21. By the Madras State (Alteration of Name) Act, 1968, with effect from January 14, 1969.
22. By the Mysore State (Alteration of Name) Act, 1973.
23. By the Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands (Alteration of Name) Act, 1973.
24. With effect from February 1, 1992.
25. By the Uttaranchal (Alteration of Name) Act, 2006.
26. By the Pondicherry (Alteration of Name) Act, 2006.
27. By the Orissa (Alteration of Name) Act, 2011.