Jammu & Kashmir: From a State with autonomy to two Union Territories

Explained | State, Union Territory, and Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly

View of a deserted road during restrictions in Srinagar on Monday.

View of a deserted road during restrictions in Srinagar on Monday.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The Central government on August 5 did away with the special status awarded to Jammu and Kashmir by abrogating certain provisions of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The government also introduced the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill in the Rajya Sabha, bifurcating the State into two Union Territories (UT) — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature, similar to Delhi and Puducherry, while the UT of Ladakh will not, mirroring UTs like Chandigarh and Daman and Diu.

But what are the differences between a State, a Union Territory with a legislature, and a Union Territory without one?

States Reorganisation Bill

To begin with, the Constitution guarantees the Union government powers to form a State, increase or decrease the area of any State, and alter the boundaries or name of any State — as given in Article 3.

At the time of Independence, there was an abundance of princely states and former British India provinces needing to be coalesced together. The Indian Constitution that came into force in 1950 went a step further, recognising four different categories of territories in Schedule 1.

Part A comprised former British India provinces, having a Governor and a legislature. Part B comprised former princely states, governed by a ‘rajpramukh’ while Part C was a combination of princely states and Chief Commissioner’s provinces, being governed by a Chief Commissioner. The administrators of all three categories were appointed by the President.

Part D comprised the lone territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which had a Lieutenant Governor appointed by the Central Government. It was Part D that would go on to form the basis for the creation of Union Territories.

From this territorial tangle, the States Reorganisation Act of 1956 carved out 14 States and six Union Territories, three of which were eventually became States — Manipur, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.

Why Union Territories?

The States Reorganisation Commission, which provided the report the States Reorganisation Bill was based on, suggested the creation of Union Territories modelled on Part D. This category featured an area that was governed directly by the Central government.

Though the Commission was in favour of forming larger States in the interest of governance, they also identified territories that were “economically unbalanced, financially weak and administratively and politically unstable”, and found that it was necessary to have them centrally administered.

“In respect of such territories as also of any territory comprised within the territory of India but not specified in this Schedule, the Central Government has not only full executive authority but also regulation-making power,” the Commission wrote in its report.

The Commission also took inspiration from what it called ‘major’ and ‘minor’ provinces that existed at “the close of the eighteenth century” — the former under the administration of Governors and Chief Commissioners, and the latter under the direct control of the Central Government.

The Chief Minister, the Lieutenant Governor and the balance of power

The main difference between States and the Union Territories is the way they are administered.

A State is a unit unto itself, with elected representatives, and its own government. They make the law, and in effect, run the State as the Central government runs the country. In addition, a State also has a Governor, appointed by the President, with powers equivalent to that of the President.

A UT, however, is administered wholly by the Central Government through the Lieutenant Governor, as appointed by the President, making “regulations for the peace, progress and good government” of these UTs.

A UT can have an elected government too, like in the case of Delhi, Puducherry, and more recently, the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, but the administrative powers in this case are tilted in the favour of the L-G.

So far only three Union Territories — Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi and Puducherry — have Lt. Governors.

Jammu and Kashmir will soon join the order.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 11:54:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/explained-state-union-territory-and-union-territory-with-a-legislative-assembly/article28837329.ece

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