union and its territories
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This article is written by Avni Kaushik.


The Constitution is nothing but a legal document. India’s Constitution is India’s supreme law. It defines the fundamental rights and duties of the citizen of India. It is the world’s largest written constitution which contains 448 articles in 25 parts and 12 schedules. But when it was drafted on November 26, 1949, it had 395 articles in 22 parts and 8 schedules. The title of Part I of the constitution is the Union and its Territory. This part is covered by articles 1 to 4. Let’s speak in-depth about the union and its territory.

Union and its territory (Article 1- 4)

Article 1 to 4 of Part I of the Constitution explains the Union and its territory.

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Article 1 of the Constitution defines India, that is, Bharat as a ‘Union of States’. The reasons behind this made clear by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly. Ambedkar said the Indian Federation was a “Union” because it was inseparable, and no State had the right to withdraw from the Indian Union. He said “The Drafting Committee wanted to make it clear that while Indian was going to be a federation, the federation was not the product of an agreement between states to join the federation, and that since the federation was not the consequence of an agreement, no State had the right to withdraw from the federation. The Union is a federation because it is indestructible. Although for the convenience of administration, the country and people can be divided into different States, the country is an integral whole, its people a single people living under a single imperium coming from a single source. The Americans had to wage a civil war in order to make sure that their federation was indestructible and the States had no right of secession. The Drafting Committee was of the opinion that it was better to make it clear at the outset than to avoid speculation or dispute”.

It is necessary to distinguish the phrases ‘Union of India’ and ‘Territory of India’. The Union of India includes only those States which enjoy the status of being members of the federal system and share the distribution of powers with the Union. The Union Territories are not included in the Union of states whereas the term Indian Territory includes not only the States but also the Union Territories and other territories that India may acquire. In the First Schedule of the Constitution, the States and Territories are specified.

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.


Article 2 of the Constitution confers power on the Parliament to admit or establish new States. Parliament has admitted by using this power, for example, the French settlements of Pondicherry, Karaikal, etc.

Article 2 concerns the admission or establishment of new states which were not part of India.

Article 3: Formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing State 


Parliament may increase or decrease the area of any State or may alter the borders or names of any State. In this respect, Parliament follows the following procedures.

Step 1: Either House of Parliament, on the recommendation of the President, may introduce a bill giving effect to any or all of the amendments set out above.

Step 2: If such a bill affects the boundary or the name of a State, the President shall refer the bill to the State Legislature concerned before putting it before the Parliament for its opinion.

Step 3: If the State Legislature fails to express an opinion within that time limit, it shall be deemed to have expressed its opinion. The Parliament is not bound to accept or act on the views of the State Legislature, even if the State has submitted its views within a period of time.

In the case of Union Territories, before such a bill, it is not necessary to seek the views of the Legislatures of Union Territories, For example, such Bills concerning Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Daman, and Diu were introduced in Parliament without obtaining such views.

Article 3 thus demonstrates the vulnerability and dependence of the territorial integrity of the States on the Union, whereas, in federations such as the USA or Australia, the borders or names of States can not be changed by the Federation without the consent of the States.

Article 4 states that any law referred to in Article 2 or Article 3 shall contain such provisions as required to amend the 1st Schedule and IV Schedule in order to give effect to the provisions of the law and may also contain such specific, incidental and consequential provisions as the provisions may be considered necessary by the Parliament. may deem necessary. 

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Article 4 allows for consequential changes to the First Schedule (names of the States in the Union of India) and the Fourth Schedule (number of seats allocated by each State to the Rajya Sabha). It also notes that it does not consider a constitutional amendment under Article 368. It also states that no law existing States or creating a new State will be considered a constitutional amendment. It is in line with the previous provisions of the requirement, of a simple majority in Parliament and suggests full control of the Union over the territories of the individual States of the Union.

The accession of Indian States to the dominion of India

Before the Indian partition of 1947,  584 Princely States existed in India, often known as the Native States, which were not fully and formally the part of British India, areas of the Indian subcontinent which had not been invaded or occupied by the British, but under partial control, subject to subordinate alliances.

The era of the princely states effectively ended in 1947 with Indian independence. Around 1950, almost all principalities had either acceded to India or Pakistan. The process of accession was largely peaceful, with the exception of Jammu and Kashmir (whose ruler opted for independence but decided to join India after invasion by Pakistani forces), Hyderabad (whose ruler opted for independence in 1947, followed a year later by Indian police action and annexation of the state),

Junagarh (whose ruler joined Pakistan but was annexed by India).

While India officially gained independence, there was a desire for state reorganization in a different part of India. While the demand for new states was mainly based on language, constitutional makers held a variety of views. But since the Constituent Assembly did not have enough time to examine such a huge issue and administrative difficulty, they formed a Commission to investigate the matter.

Dhar Commission

Accordingly, in June 1948, the Constituent Assembly announced the establishment of the Commission of the Linguistic Provinces, chaired by S.K. Dhar, to examine the feasibility of this. In this report ( December 1948), the Commission recommended that the reorganization of the Member States be based on administrative convenience rather than on a linguistic basis.

JVP Committee (Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel) 

The Dhar Commission report produced general disappointment and led to the appointment by the Congress in December 1948 of another Linguistic Provinces Committee, made up of three members, namely Jawahar Lal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Pattabhi Sitaramayya, and thus popularly known as the JVP Committee. In its report (1949), the Committee reaffirmed the position of the Dhar Commission. The Committee also recommended that the creation of new provinces should be postponed for a few years so that they could concentrate on other matters of vital issues and not allow ourselves to be distracted by this issue. The study also stated that if public opinion is insistent and overwhelming, they have to submit to it as Democrats subject to certain restrictions on India’s good as a whole. 

Arrangement of States as on 26th January, 1950

In the meantime, the Republic of India came into existence on 26 January 1950. The constituent units of the Indian Union have found themselves classified into Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D. This was only a temporary arrangement, as a satisfactory solution could not yet be found.

  • Part A States included the provinces of the former governors. The nine States of Part A were Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh (formerly Central Provinces and Berar), Madras, Orissa, Punjab (formerly East Punjab), Uttar Pradesh (formerly United Provinces), and West Bengal.
  • Part B States included the former Princely States. Part B States were Hyderabad, Jammu, and Kashmir, Madhya Bharat, Mysore, Patiala, and the Eastern Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Travancore-Cochin and Vindhya Pradesh.
  • Part C States comprised both the provinces of the former Chief Commissioners and some of the Princely States. Part C States were Ajmer, Bhopal, Bilaspur, Cooch-Behar, Coorg, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Kutch, Manipur, and Tripura. 
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands were the only State in Part D.

Continuation of demands for linguistic States

Demands for the formation of States on a linguistic basis have increased further. In October 1953, after the long-drawn agitation and death of Potti Sriramulu after a 56-day hunger strike for the cause,  the Government of India was forced to create the first linguistic state, Andhra Pradesh, by separating the Telugu-speaking parts of the Madras State.

Fazal Ali Commission

The creation of the Andhra State increased the demand from other regions for the formation of States on a linguistic basis. In December 1953, the Government announced the creation of a Reorganization Commission of three-member States, chaired by Fazal Ali, to examine the whole problem. The two other members of the Commission were H.N. Kunzru and K.M. Pannikar. In its report, the Commission sought a balanced approach between regional feelings and national interests. The Commission proposed abolishing the four-fold division of states in keeping with the original Constitution and recommended the establishment of 16 states and 3 central territories. 

The Commission also established the following four main principles as the basis for reorganization-

  1. Preserving and enhancing the security and unity of the country;
  2. Financial, economic and administrative viability;
  3. Linguistic and cultural homogeneity;
  4. And the scope for the successful implementation of a development plan.

The States Reorganization Act,1956

It entered into force in November 1956. This Act and the Seventh Constitutional Amendment Act of 1956 abolished the distinction between Part A and the Part B States and the Part C States. Instead, they were classified into two categories: states and territories of the Union. This Act provided for 14 States and 6 Union Territories to be established as follows:


Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Bombay, J&K(by the instrument of accession), Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Mysore, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. 

Union Territories

Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Laccadive, Minicoy & Amindivi Islands, Manipur, and Tripura. 

The New States and Union Territories created after 1956

  • The Bombay Reorganization Act, 1960, divided the State of Bombay into two States, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • The Nagaland State Act 0f 1962 established Nagaland as a separate State.
  • The Punjab Reorganization Act,1966, split Punjab into Punjab and Haryana.
  • The new State of Himachal Pradesh, consisting of the existing Union Territory of Himachal Pradesh, was established by the State of Himachal Pradesh Act, 1970.
  • The New States of Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya and Union Territories of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have been established by the North Pastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971. Later Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were granted statehood by the State of Mizoram Act, 1986 and the State of Arunachal Pradesh Act, 1986.
  • The new State of Sikkim was established by the Constitution Act (36th amendment) of 1975.
  • Goa was incorporated as a separate State of the Union by the State of Goa Act, 1987.
  • Chattisgarh was formed as a result of the Madhya Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2000, which came into force on 1 November 2000.
  • Uttranchal came into existence on 8 November 2000 under the Uttar Pradesh Reorganization Act, comprising the northern districts of Kumaon and the Garhwal hills of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The State of Jharkhand was established by the Bihar Reorganization Act 2000 of 15 November, consisting of 18 southern districts of Chhota Nagpur and Santhal Pargana of Biha.
  • The State of Telangana was established by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act 2014 and came into force on 2 June 2014.
  • On 31 October 2019, the act reconstituted the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Case Laws

Berubari Union case, 1960

In this case, the supreme court held that the power of Parliament to diminish the area of a State (under Article 3) does not cover the cession of Indian territory to a foreign country. 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.  Supreme Court in 1960 ruled that the 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.

Mullaperiyar Environment Protection Forum V. Union of India, (2006) 3 SCC 643: AIR 2006 SC 1428

In this case, the validity of Section 108 of the State Reorganization Act, 1956 which allows for the continuation of existing agreements between the existing states at that time. The Court held that the legislative powers referred to Article 3 and Article 4 are supreme and not subject to or bound by Article 246 and List II and List III of the Seventh Schedule. It also held that the constitutional validity of the legislation referred to Article 3 and Article 4 can not be questioned on the grounds of lack of legislative competence in relation to the list in the Seventh Schedule. 

Ram Kishore Sen v. Union of India, AIR 1966 SC 644, 648: (1966) 1 SCR 430

The Constitutional Act (18th amendment) 1966 adds two explanations to Article 3, incorporating the decision of the Supreme Court in this case, which clarified the term “State” in the term “State” which includes the term “Union Territories” but since there is no such necessity with regard to the provision of Article 3, it is also provided that the term “State” does not include the term “Union Territories”. The reason is that, in the event of a change and alternation in the borders of the State, it is necessary to seek the opinion of the States concerned; but since the Union Territory is governed by the Parliament itself, the inclusion of the Union Territory in the term “State” would have been redundant. The second explanation further clarifies the Parliament’s Power. It provides that Parliament’s power under Article 3 clause (a) includes the power to form a new State or Union Territory by uniting a part of any State or Union Territory with any other State or Union Territory.


It said that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Parliament is a body empowered to make laws for the welfare state, but in doing so, the Members of the Parliament need to ensure that the legislation that is presented and enacted does not derogate from the constitution and, above all, does not have to be in breach of the basic structure of the constitution of India.


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