(Polity) Union of India and Territory

Union of India and Territory

  • The first part of the Constitution of India deals with Union and its territory. It comprises of four articles, Article 1-4.

Article1: Name and territory of the Union

  1. India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.
  2. The States and the territories thereof shall be as specified in the First Schedule.
  3. The territory of India shall comprise-

(a) the territories of the States;

(b) the Union territories specified in the First Schedule; and

(c) such other territories as may be acquired.

India can acquire foreign territories according to the 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 names of the States and the Unions have been described in the First Schedule. This schedule also holds that there are four Categories of State and territories – Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D.
  1. Part A – includes the nine provinces which were under British India
  2. Part B – princely states consisted of this category
  3. Part C – centrally administered five states
  4. Part D – Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • In the seventh amendment of the Constitution in 1956 the distinction between the Part A and Part B states was abolished. Subsequently states were reorganized on linguistic basis. As a result several new states were formed, eg. Haryana, Goa, Nagaland, Mizoram etc. At present there are 29 States and 7 union territories.

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Difference between ‘Territory of India’ and ‘Union of India’ :

  • ‘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 government.

Constitution gave two names: India and Bharat

  • Article 1 describes India, that is, Bharat as a ‘Union of States’. 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 both.

Is India Union of Federation?

  • According to Article 1, the country is described as ‘Union of States’ ( rather than ‘Federation of States’ ) 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: (a) that the Indian Union is not the result of an agreement by the states and (b) the component states have no freedom to secede from it.
  • Though the country and the people may be divided into different States for convenience of administration, the country is one integral whole, its people a single people living under a single imperium derived from a single source.

Article 2: Admission or establishment of new States

  • Parliament may by law admit into the Union, or establish, new States on such terms and conditions, as it thinks fit . For eg. the addition of the State of Sikkim by the 35th (1974) and 36th (1975) constitutional amendments.

Article 3: Formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States: Parliament may by law

  • This article empowers the parliament to:
  1. 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;
  2. increase the area of any State;
  3. diminish the area of any State;
  4. alter the boundaries of any State;
  5. alter the name of any State;
  • There is also a clause in the article to protect the rights of the state:
  1. The first condition is that no bill for the purpose can be introduced in the either house except on recommendation of the President of India.
  2. Second, whether the proposal contains the alternation of the area, boundaries or name of the state mentioned, it has to referred by President to the Legislatures of concerned states, for expressing opinions. Such opinion has to be expressed with in a period specified by the President.  In any case, the views expressed do not bind the decisions of either the President or the Parliament
  • The power conferred on Parliament by clause 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 territory

USA has indestructible states and India has destructible states:

  • India is as ‘an indestructible union of destructible states’. As from above article it is clear that the Union government can destroy the states whereas the state governments cannot destroy the Union.
  • In USA 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.’

Article 4: Laws made under Articles 2 and 3 to provide for the amendment of the First and the Fourth Schedules and supplemental, incidental and consequential matters

  • Any law referred to in Article 2 or Article 3 shall contain such provisions for the amendment of the First Schedule and the Fourth Schedule as may be necessary to give effect to the provisions of the law and may also contain such supplemental, incidental and consequential provisions (including provisions as to representation in Parliament and in the Legislature or Legislatures of the State or States affected by such law) as Parliament may deem necessary
  • No such law as aforesaid shall be deemed to be an amendment of this Constitution for the purposes of Article 368, which means these can be passed without resorting to any special procedure specified under Article 368 and by simple majority.

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 Presidential reference 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.

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