Explained: Why Union Territories exist in India?
India is a federal country where the ruling powers are distributed among the Central Government and the State Governments. As per Article 1 of the Indian Constitution, India is a Union of States and not a federation of states.
As per Article 3 of the Indian Constitution, the Union Government has the power to form a State, increase or decrease the size of any State, and alter the boundaries or name of any State.
When the Constitution of India was adopted in 1949, the Indian federal structure included:
1- Part A: Former British India provinces that had a Governor and a legislature.
2- Part B: The former Princely States that were governed by a Rajpramukh.
3- Part C: Chief Commissioners' provinces and some princely states that were governed by Chief Commissioner.
In all the above-mentioned categories, the administrators were appointed by the President of India.
4- Part D: Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands that was governed by a Lieutenant Governor who was appointed by the Central Government.
After the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, Part C and Part D states were combined into a single category of 'Union Territory'. The concept of the UT was added by the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956.
At that time, there were only 6 Union Territories:
1- Andaman and Nicobar Islands
2- Laccadive, Minicoy & Amindivi Islands (later renamed Lakshadweep)
6- Himachal Pradesh
In 1954, Puducherry was merged into the Republic of India after attaining independence from French Rule and became the Union Territory of Puducherry. In 1963, Puducherry was granted the status of Partial Statehood.
In 1961, Daman and Diu and Goa were merged into the Republic of India, after attaining independence from Portuguese Rule. In 1987, Goa was granted the status of Statehood and became the first Union Territory to receive such status. In 2020, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu were merged into a single Union Territory known as Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
In the early 1970s, Manipur, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh were granted the status of Statehood. Chandigarh became a Union Territory.
Delhi was earlier a State. On 27 March 1952, the first Delhi Legislative Assembly elections were held on 48 seats. Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Yadav was the first CM of Delhi. However, after the State Reorganisation Act of 1956, Delhi lost its Statehood and became a UT. In 1991, Partial Statehood status was granted to the Union Territory of Delhi and it came to be known as the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
In 2019, Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 was passed by the Indian Parliament and it reconstituted the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories-- UT of Jammu and Kashmir and UT of Ladakh.
What are Union Territories (UTs)?
Union Territories (UTs) are the federal territories and are administered by the Union Government of India. In the Union Territories, Lieutenant Governors are appointed by the President of India who serves as their administrators.
However, Puducherry, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi are the exception in this regard and have an elected legislature and government due to the status of partial statehood which was granted to them under the special Constitutional Amendment.
At present, India has 8 Union Territories (UTs)-- Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry.
Types of Union Territories in India
There are two types of Union Territories in India. These are:
1- Union Territories with Legislature-- Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, and Puducherry.
2- Union Territories without Legislature-- Andaman and Nicobar, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Ladakh, and Lakshadweep.
It is to be noted that the Union Territories have no separate representation in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) except for Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, and Puducherry.
Need for Union Territories in India
The concept of Union Territory was first introduced in the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. It refers to those territories that are too small to be independent or are too different (economically, culturally and geographically) to be merged with the surrounding states or are financially weak or are politically unstable. Due to the aforementioned reasons, they couldn't survive as separate administrative units and need to be administered by the Union Government.
Why Union Territories exist in India?
1- Except for Delhi, Union Territories have less population and land size as compared to a state. Thus, these are too small to be independent and are administered by Union Government (except for Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry).
2- Many of the Union Territories have a different culture than their surrounding States as they were earlier under the rule of Portuguese (Daman and Diu) and French (Puducherry). Hence, these UTs cannot be merged with the surrounding states.
3- Delhi is the administrative capital of India while Chandigarh is the administrative capital of both Haryana and Punjab.
4- Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar islands are located far from mainland India. Thus, they are strategically important to India and in case of any emergency, the Indian government can directly act there.
Union Territories and their Capitals
|Union Territory||Capital||Date of Establishment||Lt. Governor/Administrator|
|Andaman and Nicobar Islands||Port Blair||1 November 1956||Admiral D. K. Joshi (Lieutenant Governor)|
|Chandigarh||Chandigarh||1 November 1966||V.P. Singh Badnore (Administrator)|
|Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu||Daman||26 January 2020||Praful Patel (Administrator)|
|Delhi||New Delhi||1 November 1956||Anil Baijal (Lieutenant Governor)|
|Jammu and Kashmir||Sri Nagar (Summer) Jammu (Winter)||31 October 2019||Manoj Sinha (Lieutenant Governor)|
|Ladakh||Leh (Summer) Kargil (Winter)||31 October 2019||Radha Krishna Mathur (Lieutenant Governor)|
|Lakshadweep||Kavaratti||1 November 1956||Praful Patel (Administrator)|
|Puducherry||Puducherry||16 August 1962||Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan (Addl. Charge) (Lieutenant Governor)|
Facts on Union Territories:
1- Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and Puducherry have Lieutenant Governors.
2- Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep have Administrators.
3- V.P. Singh Badnore is the Governor of Punjab as well as Administrator of Union Territory of Chandigarh.
4- In 2020, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu were merged into a single UT and are administered by Praful Patel. The merged Union Territory is known as Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
5- As per Article 239, the President of India is the Chief Administrator of the Union Territories.
Difference between a State and Union Territory
1- State is a constituent division and has its own elected government that has the powers to frame laws while a Union Territory is a small administrative unit and is ruled by the Union Government except for Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry.
2- An Indian State enjoys a federal relationship with the Union Government and the legislative and executive powers are distributed while a Union Territory has a unitary relationship with the Union Government and all the legislative and executive powers reside with the Government of India.
3- A Governor is the constitutional head of the State while the President of India is the executive head of the Union Territory.
4- The Chief Minister elected by the people administers the State while the Union Territory is administered by an administrator or Lieutenant Governor appointed by the President of India.
5- States are much larger in size in comparison with the Union Territories.
6- States enjoy autonomous powers while the Union Territories do not have autonomous powers.
India has 28 States-- Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.