Union and it’s territory

Union and it’s territory

This article deals with ‘Union and it’s territory.’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here


Under International Law, to be recognised as STATE some basic components  are required like

  1. Permanent Population
  2. Defined territory
  3. Government
  4. Capacity to enter into relations with other states

Hence, TERRITORY plays very significant role in making of recognised state

(Eg : Kurds have Permanent Population , even somewhat independent government and they enter into relations with other powers like US but they don’t have defined Territory which is internationally recognised by other states . Hence, although Kurds are nation but not State)

Constitutional Provisions

Article 1 to 4 of Part 1 deals with Union and it’s territory.

India = Union of States

Article 1 India that is Bharat shall be Union of states  
Official name of India India that is Bharat  
Why Union of States India is Union of States and not Federation of States (this term  was  deliberately used by Constitution makers) because
India is not result of agreement among different states
No state has right to secede the Union  
Hence , word Union of States represents Unity and Integrity of India.  
Point India = Indestructible Union of destructible state
USA = Indestructible Union of indestructible states

Schedule 1

  • Name of States and UTs  along with their territorial extent mentioned here

So, What constitutes Territory of India?

It consist of

  1. Territory of states
  2. Union territories
  3. Territories that may be acquired by GoI at any time

Hence, Territory of India is greater than Union of India (which consist only states)

SC Judgement – N. Masthan Sahib vs Chief Commissioner of Pondicherry

  • Supreme Court (SC) held that mere having administrative control over territory of Pondicherry didn’t mean territory has been transferred to India . For legal transfer of Territory , it is necessary to ratify the cession between France and India.
  • Similarly later in SR Bhansali vs Union of India , it was held that mere physical control of territory by force of arms didn’t amount to ‘acquisition’ and territory conquered in Indo-Pakistan War , 1971 had not become part of Territory of India

Hence , ratification by both sovereigns is essential conditions for acquisition of Territory  

Article 2

  • Empowers Parliament to admit into Union of India or establish new states on such terms & conditions as it thinks fit
  • Meant to newly acquired area which earlier wasn’t part of India like Goa

Article 3

Authorises Parliament (by law) to

  • Form a new state
  • Increase or diminish area of state
  • Alter boundaries and name of any state

Procedure to form new state

  • Bill can be introduced in any house with prior recommendation of President
  • Before recommending the bill, President would send bill to concerned state legislature to seek its opinion within time limit .
  • If  state doesn’t  respond within time , it can be extended or introduced in Parliament without recommendation
  • Parliament is not bound to act on recommendation of State Legislature (ruled by SC in Babulal Parate vs State of Bombay and not written in Constitution)
  • Can be passed with simple majority

Issue with above procedure

  • Above provision was challenged in Andhra Pradesh Bifurcation. Petition demanded to declare Bifurcation to be Unconstitutional.
  • Petition claimed that the
    • Center had introduced the Bill when it was rejected by the Andhra Pradesh State Legislature. They contended that the bifurcation violated the basic provisions of federalism.
    • There should be a “federal index” for State formation. The Center cannot be allowed to ride roughshod over the federal structure of democracy
  • Full verdict is awaited. It is hoped that SC will clarify the procedure to be followed in case of such bifurcations

Article 4

  • Article 2 & Article 3 are not Amendments to Constitution under Article 368 and hence can be passed by simple majority

Supreme Court rulings on important question

Do power to diminish area of state also constitute power to cede territory to foreign country?

  • Matter came up in Berubari Union Case of 1960
  • India ceded part called Berubari Union in WB to Pakistan
  • Supreme Court said  Parliament doesn’t  have power to diminish area by ceding its territory to other country under Article 3 and hence Constitutional Amendment under Article 368 is required for that 

How to settle boundary dispute ?

  • In Ram Kishore case / Berubari II Case, SC held that cessation of territory is different from settlement of boundary. 
  • Settlement of boundary dispute & also implementation of International Tribunal’s Award are within executive powers of Government . It doesn’t require any amendment  and can be done by executive order

Leasing of Territory

  • In Union of India vs Sukumar Sengupta, SC held that where a territory was leased to other State (in this case was  leased to Bangladesh) , it wasn’t necessary to Amend the Constitution . Reason was there was no cessation  and abandonment of Sovereignty of India over territory 

Evolution of States & Union Territories

1 . Princely States

  • At time of independence, India was broadly divided in two parts politically
British India Directly under British crown
Princely States 552 in Indian geographical region ,under rulers & had three options
1. Can join India
2. Can join Pakistan
3. Can declare their independence
  • All except three joined  Indian Union which later merged
Junahgarh By Referendum
Hyderabad By Police Action
J&K By Instrument of Accession
  • 1950 ,India comprised of 4 fold classification of states
Part A 9 Governor’s Provinces of British India(Punjab here) Under Governor
Part B 9 Princely States with Legislature Under Rajpramukh
Part C Commissioners Provinces & some Princely states (total 10) Under Chief Commissioner
Part D Andaman & Nicobar Island Under Chief Commissioner

2. Dhar Commission

Name Linguistic Provinces Commission
When 1948, December submitted report
Conclusion Reorganisation on basis of administrative convenience and not on basis of language

3. JVP Commission

Members Nehru,Patel & Pattabi Sitaramaiya
When April 1949 ,submitted report
Conclusion Language can’t be considered basis for State Reorganisation
Aftermath Strong agitations in AP and Congress leader Poti Sriramulu died in fast leading to riots. Government under pressure carved out AP from Madras province. Other people also started to demand linguistic reorganisation

4. Fazl Ali Commission

Name State Re-organisation Commission (SRC)
Members Headed by Fazl Ali
Members included KM Pannikar & HN Kunzru

Recommendations of SRC

  • Accepted language as basis for reorganisation of states. But rejected the theory of ‘one language one state. ‘
  • Financial, economic & administrative considerations planning & welfare of people also to be taken into account
  • It suggested
    • Abolition of 4 fold classification of states
    • Creation of 16 states & 3 centrally administrative territories
  • State Reorganisation Act, 1956 was passed consequently leading to  7th Amendment which resulted in 14 states & 6 UTs

5. New states Formed (Order important for Prelims)

Andhra Pradesh 1953
Kerala 1956
Karnataka 1956
Gujarat and Bombay 1960
Nagaland 1962
Punjab and Haryana 1966
Himachal Pradesh 1970
Meghalaya 1971
Manipur and Tripura 1971
Sikkim 1974 became Associate state &
In 1975 Full state
Mizoram 1986
Arunachal Pradesh 1986
Goa 1987
Chattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand 2000
Telengana 2 june 2014

Punjab and Sikkim Case

1 . Formation of Punjab

  • In 1966 Punjab was bifurcated to create Haryana  as 17th state along with Union Territory of Chandigarh
  • Done after demand of separate Sikh Homeland ie Punjabi Suba raised by Akali Dal under leadership of Master Tara Singh
  • Shah Commission – Punjabi speaking areas to Punjab & Hindi speaking areas to Haryana & adjoining UT of HP
  • Later in 1970,  HP given status of state

2. Formation of Sikkim

  • Till 1947 : Ruled by Chogyal Dynasty
  • After that became protectorate of India ie Government of India  responsible for defence , external affairs & communication
  • In 1974 , Sikkim expressed desire for greater association with India
  • 35th Constitutional Amendment created new class of statehood and Sikkim was given status of Associate state with inclusion of Article 2A 
  • In 1975 , via referendum people voted for abolition of Chogyal Dynasty & Sikkim became integral part of India .
  • Under 36th Amendment : Added Article 371F providing special provisions for Sikkim

Issue 1 : Demand  of Smaller States

Off late there are demands for new states like

New State Demanded From
Telangana; formed in June 2014 Andhra Pradesh
Vidharbha Maharashtra
Bodoland Assam
Gorkhaland WB
Kodagu Karnataka
Harit Pradesh UP
Mithilanchal Bihar
Demand of Small States

History : Stand of various leaders on small states

Congress Party before Independence Supported the idea of Linguistic Reorganisation since 1920
JL Nehru Stand after Partition However, following partition, Jawaharlal Nehru felt that the idea could wait since he feared it would foster local nationalisms and undermine national unity.
Further, it was thought that the interchange of capital and labour between the richer and poorer sub-regions in large states would create greater equality over time.  
BR Ambedkar B R Ambedkar held  the doctrine of “one language, many states

Why such demands arise ?

  1. Political
    • Power of Regional Parties in Era of Coalition Governments has increased. National Parties cant ignore their demands . TRS was able to form Telangana  based on such equations
  2. Governance & Administrative
    • Smaller  states  ensures good governance  (Chhattisgarh, UK and Jharkhand were demanded for good governance rather than Linguistic reasons)
  3. Economic
    • Peripheral  regions  in developed states are feeling neglected and demanding new states.(e.g  Telangana,  Vidarbha  and  Marathawada).
  4. Socio-Cultural Reasons: Even after Linguistic divisions, diversity in some state is still very large . Eg : Jammu and Kashmir where Jammu and Kashmir are two diverse regions , Gorkhaland in West Bengal etc
  5. Historical: eg Kodagu in Karnataka demand separate state on the basis of separate history 

Advantages of smaller states

  • Increased administrative efficiency leading to proper utilisation of resources . 
  • Make the federation more balanced by making the representation of the present-day large-sized States, like UP, MP and Maharashtra, and the small States, like Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, more proportionate. 
  • Greater competition among states (Competitive Federalism) for more development 
  • Smaller states will have more homogenous preferences & managing a culturally homogeneous state is easier and more efficient 
  • Resolve the problem of identity crisis among the ethnic groups and helping them in getting rid of the ‘feelings of internal colonialism’. 

Disadvantages of smaller states

  • Will open pandora box creating demand for more states
  • Will add to the burden of administrative expense and cost of setting up new Capital
  • Smaller states don’t necessarily show better economic performance eg north east ,Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh etc.
  • May increase interstate water conflicts
  • Small States could  lead to the hegemony of the dominant community/caste/tribe over power structures
  • It would also be restricted in its capability to raise resources internally & make it more dependent on the Centre for financial transfers and centrally-sponsored schemes.
  • Formation of new & small states comes in the way of development of national consciousness . Hostility between people of Andhra and Telangana is a cause of concern in creation of Telangana

Do we need second State Reorganisation Commission ?

  • After Independence, First State Re-organisation Commission was made and boundaries of India were redrawn according to its recommendations. But Re-organisation needs to be seen not as a task undertaken at a single point of time, but as an ongoing process that remains unfinished. 
  • Considering the plethora of demands being raised & complexities involved in such process which cant be handled by ordinary committees , it is time for a second States Re-organisation Commission (SRC) that can redraw India’s federal map
  • However first Parliament need to deliberate on criteria on which  SRC will consider the demands . These can be
    • Political Aspirations of People
    • Economic Viability
    • Administrative Convenience
    • Repercussions on National Integration due to accepting or ignoring the demand

Issue : Demand for Gorkhaland

Issue  of  giving  the  Gorkha  hill  areas  autonomy  is  over  a  hundred  years  old and agitation is going on since Independence.


History of Demand for Gorkhaland

  • 1780 : Gorkhas captured Sikkim and  entire region from Teesta to Sutlej.
  • Treaty of Sagauli : Gorkhas lost to  British in 1816 losing large territory
  • 1907 : first demand for Gorkhaland was submitted to Morley-Minto Reforms panel
  • Followed by same demand various times to British and later Independent Indian Government
  • There have been two mass-movements – first in the 1980s and then in 2007.
  • Due to these agitations, some autonomy is given but it is not enough to fulfil regional aspirations of Gorkhas
    1. Gorkha  Hill  Council : Made in 1988  (Problem – limited executive powers and no legislative powers. Duars region wasn’t included in council)
    2. Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) : Made in 2012   (Problem – same as Hill council, no legislative powers and Dooars left out again)

Causes of agitation

  • Immediate : Cultural Imperialism of Bengali language by imposing  Bengali  language  on  Gorkhas   
  • Long term – Problems in functioning of GTA + interference of state government + not enough financial resources

Causes of demand of Gorkhaland

  • Distinct Identity : Separate Ethnic  history  &  distinct  Nepali  identity from rest of Bengal 
  • Economic &  infrastructural  development  of  region  has  lagged  as Bengal  government neglects the needs of  this  region
  • Political Aspirations : Gorkhas have Political aspirations but they  have  almost  negligible  representation  in  state  services,  legislative  assembly,  and administration
  • Region  has  a  completely  different  geography  from  the  rest  of  the  state  and  a  different revenue  model  based  on  tea  plantation  and  tourism  industry

Problems  with  Gorkhaland  State  or  similar  identity-based  states

  • Open pandorabox of such demands.  Eg : Kamtapur, Greater Cooch Behar etc
  • Smaller states aren’t economically and administratively viable. 

Way forward

There is need to address this issue because Gorkhaland is situated at very strategic location consisting of Siliguri Corridor & large proportion of Gorkhas in army .  Hence, there is need to shed the ad-hocism and deal with Gorkha Problem in toto

  • Giving more Executive and Legislative powers  to GTA
  • Creation of an Autonomous State of Gorkhaland within an undivided West Bengal  with its own legislature and council of ministers under Article 244 A currently applicable to Assam .
  • Transfer of Gorkhaland to Sikkim which is culturally , ethnically and linguistically homogeneous with Gorkhaland
  • Economic development of region – hospital , schools etc is sine quo none

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