Union territory

A union territory (ISO: Sanghaśasita Kṣetra/Pradeśa, lit. 'Federally administered territory/province') is a type of administrative division in the Republic of India. Unlike the states of India, which have their own governments, union territories are federal territories governed directly by the Central Government of India.[1][2][3]

Background

 
Map of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, after Ladakh was separated from it.

As of 2020 there are eight union territories. When the Constitution of India was adopted in 1949, there was only one Part D state: Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[4] Three more, the Delhi, Chandigarh and Lakshadweep were formed by separating each territory from pre-existing states. Another two (Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu and Puducherry) were formed from acquired territories that formerly belonged to colonial powers (Portuguese India and French India respectively).

The Parliament of India can pass a law to amend the constitution and provide a Legislature with elected Members and a Chief Minister for a union territory, as it has done for Delhi and Puducherry. In general, the President of India appoints an administrator or lieutenant governor for each UT.[1]

Delhi, Puducherry and Jammu and Kashmir operate differently from the other five. They were given partial statehood and Delhi was redefined as the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) and incorporated into a larger area known as the National Capital Region (NCR). Delhi, Puducherry and Jammu and Kashmir have an elected legislative assembly and an executive council of ministers with partially state-like function.

In August 2019, the Parliament of India passed Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. The act contains provisions to reconstitute the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, one to be eponymously called Jammu and Kashmir, and the other Ladakh on 31 October 2019.

In November 2019, the Government of India introduced legislation to merge the union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli into a single union territory to be known as Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.[5][6][7]

Due to existence of union territories, many critics have resolved India into a semi-federal nation, as the central and state governments each have their own domains and territories of legislation. Union territories of India have special rights and status due to their constitutional formation and development. The status of "union territory" may be assigned to an Indian sub-jurisdiction for reasons such as safeguarding the rights of indigenous cultures, averting political turmoil related to matters of governance, and so on. These union territories could be changed to states in the future for more efficient administrative control.[8]

The Constitution does not stipulate how tax revenue is to be devolved to the union territories, unlike for the states. The funds devolution to union territories by the union government have no criteria where all the revenue goes to the union government. Some union territories are provided more funds, while others are given less, in an arbitrary manner by the union government.[9] As union territories are directly ruled by the union government, some union territories get more funds from the union government than entitled on per capita and backwardness basis when compared to states.

After the introduction of GST, UT-GST is applicable in union territories which are not having legislative assembly. UT-GST is levied at par with the applicable state GST in rest of the country which would eliminate the previous lower taxation in the union territories.[10]

Constitutional status

Article 1 (1) of the Indian constitution says that India shall be a "Union of States", which are elaborated under Parts V (The Union) and VI (The States) of the constitution. Article 1 (3) says the territory of India comprises the territories of the states, the union territories and other territories that may be acquired. The concept of union territories was not in the original version of the constitution, but was added by the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956.[11] In the constitution wherever it refers to Territories of India, it is applicable to whole country including union territories. Where it refers to only India, it is applicable to all states only but not to union territories. Thus, citizenship (part II), fundamental rights (part III), Directive Principles of State Policy (part IV), Judiciary role, the Union Territories (part VIII), Article 245, etc. are applicable to union territories as it refers specifically to Territories of India. The executive power of Union (i.e. union of states only) rests with President of India. President of India is also chief administrator of union territories per Article 239. Union public service commission role is not applicable to all territories of India as it refers to India only in Part XIV.

The constitutional status of a union territory is similar to a state under the perennial president's rule per Article 356 subject to specific exemptions to few union territories with legislative assembly. Per Article 240 (2), supreme power is accorded to the President in regulating the affairs of the all the union territories except Chandigarh, NCT and Puducherry, including powers to override the laws made by Parliament and the constitution of India. Article 240 (2) allows to implement tax heaven laws in these union territories to attract foreign capital/investments in to India instead of depending on foreign tax heaven countries.

Three of the union territories have representation in the upper house of the Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha. Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, and Puducherry which are also exceptional among union territories in that each has its own locally elected legislative assembly and government.

Current union territories

Location within India Name Area Region UT established
Union territories with their own elected legislatures and governments
  Delhi 1,484 km2 (573 sq mi) North India 1 November 1956
  Jammu and Kashmir 42,241 km2 (16,309 sq mi) North India 31 October 2019
  Puducherry 483 km2 (186 sq mi) South India 16 August 1962
Union territories without elected legislatures
  Andaman and Nicobar Islands 8,250 km2 (3,190 sq mi) South India 1 November 1956
  Chandigarh 114 km2 (44 sq mi) North India 1 November 1966
  Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu 603 km2 (233 sq mi) Western India 26 January 2020
  Lakshadweep 32.62 km2 (12.59 sq mi) South India 1 November 1956
  Ladakh 59,146 km2 (22,836 sq mi) North India 31 October 2019

Former union territories

Location within India Name Area Region UT established UT disestablished Today part of
  Arunachal Pradesh 83,743 km2 (32,333 sq mi) Northeast India 21 January 1972 20 February 1987 As an Indian state
  Dadra and Nagar Haveli 491 km2 (190 sq mi) Western India 11 August 1961 26 January 2020 Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu union territory
  Daman and Diu 112 km2 (43 sq mi) Western India 30 May 1987 26 January 2020 Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu union territory
  Goa, Daman and Diu 3,814 km2 (1,473 sq mi) Western India 19 December 1961 30 May 1987 Goa state and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu union territory
  Himachal Pradesh 55,673 km2 (21,495 sq mi) North India 1 November 1956 25 January 1971 As an Indian state
  Manipur 22,327 km2 (8,621 sq mi) Northeast India 1 November 1956 21 January 1972 As an Indian state
  Mizoram 21,087 km2 (8,142 sq mi) Northeast India 21 January 1972 20 February 1987 As an Indian state
  Nagaland 16,579 km2 (6,401 sq mi) Northeast India 29 November 1957 1 December 1963 As an Indian state
  Tripura 10,491.65 km2 (4,050.85 sq mi) Northeast India 1 November 1956 21 January 1972 As an Indian state

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Union Territories. Know India: National Portal of India Archived 2012-11-26 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "States and Union Territories". KnowIndia.gov.in. Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Union Territories of India".
  4. ^ "Original unamended constitution of India, January, 1950". Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  5. ^ Dutta, Amrita Nayak (10 July 2019). "There will be one UT less as Modi govt plans to merge Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu". New Delhi. The Print. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Govt plans to merge 2 UTs -- Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli". Press Trust of India. 22 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Bill No. 366 of 2019" [THE DADRA AND NAGAR HAVELI AND DAMAN AND DIU (MERGER OF UNION TERRITORIES) BILL, 2019]. Article 240 (2),  of 21 November 2019 (PDF). Lok Sabha.
  8. ^ "Supreme Court judgement, New Delhi Municipal Corporation ... vs State Of Punjab Etc.Etc on 19 December, 1996". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  9. ^ "Puducherry CM N Rangasamy seeks 'clear formula' for devolution of Central funds". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Why Union Territory GST law (UTGST) is important?". Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  11. ^ "The Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956". Archived from the original on 1 May 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2017.