Union Territories and Special Areas

Union Territories and Special Areas

Union Territories and Special Areas


  • ‘Union Territories’ were constituted in 1956 by the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act (1956) and the States Re-organization Act (1956).
  • Some of these union territories have been elevated to statehood like Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Goa, which are states today that were formerly union territories.

Currently, there are 8 Union Territories namely

  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Chandigarh
  • Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
  • National Capital Territory of Delhi
  • Jammu and Kashmir
  • Lakshadweep
  • Ladakh
  • Puducherry

The union territories have been created for a variety of reasons:

  • Political and administrative consideration—Delhi and Chandigarh.
  • Cultural distinctiveness—Puducherry, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
  • Strategic importance—Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.
  • Special treatment and care of the backward and tribal people—Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh which later became states.
  • Articles 239 to 241 in Part VIII of the Constitution deal with the union territories and there is no uniformity in their administrative system.
  • Every union territory is administered by the President through an administrator appointed by him.
  • The administrator of a union territory is an agent of the Central government and is not the head of state like a governor.
  • The President can also appoint the governor of a state as the administrator of an adjoining union territory.
  • Not all the UTs have an administrator; some are directly governed by the president.

Power of Parliament to make Laws

  • The Parliament can make laws on any subject of the three lists (including the State List) for the union territories.
  • The President can make regulations for the peace, progress and good government of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
  • A regulation made by the President has the same force and effect as an act of Parliament
  • The Parliament can establish a high court for a union territory.

Constitutional Provisions for Delhi

  • Art 239 – Union Territory shall be administered by the President through an Administrator to be appointed by the President.
  • Article 239A provides for the creation of local Legislatures or Council of Ministers or both for certain Union Territories.
  • Article 239AA of the Indian Constitution was added by the 69th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1991. It says that the Union Territory of Delhi shall be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Administrator thereof appointed under Article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant Governor.
  • There shall be a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory (NCT).
    • Assembly shall make laws on matters enumerated in the state list (Except matters of Public order, Police, and land)
    • If any law, made by legislative assembly w.r.t. any matter which is repugnant to any provision of law made by parliament w.r.t. that matter, then law made by Parliament shall prevail and law made by Legislative assembly shall to the extent of repugnancy, be void.
    • If a law made by the Legislative Assembly is preserved for consideration of the President and has received his assent, then such law shall prevail in NCT, however, parliament can make laws adding to, varying, or repealing laws made by the Legislative Assembly.
    • There shall be a Council of Ministers, not more than 1/10th of the total members of the Assembly, with Chief Ministers at its apex to aid and advise Lt. governor in the exercise of his functions
    • In case of a difference between the opinions of the Council of Ministers and the Lt. Governor, the Lt. Governor shall refer it to the President for his decision and shall act according to directions given by the President.

Scheduled Areas

Article 244(1) – Provisions of the 5th Schedule shall apply to the administration and control of the scheduled areas in every state other than Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam, and Mizoram

Article 244(2) – Provisions of the 6th Schedule shall apply to the administration and control of tribal areas of Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam, and Mizoram

Criteria for declaring an area as Scheduled Area:
1. Preponderance of tribal population;
2. Compactness and reasonable size of the area;
3. Under-developed nature of the area; and
4. Marked disparity in the economic standard of the people.

Special Provisions for Fifth Schedule Areas

  • The President is empowered to declare an area as a Scheduled Area.
  • Part X of the Indian Constitution entails the provisions related to Scheduled and Tribal Areas with Articles 244 – 244A.
  • The Governor of each State having Scheduled Areas (SA) shall annually, or whenever so required by the President, submit a report to the President regarding the administration of Scheduled Areas in that State.
  • The Union Government shall have executive powers to give directions to the States as to the administration of the Scheduled Areas.
  • With the consultation of the governor of the state, the President can alter, add, or diminish the boundary of a Scheduled Area
  • Para 4 of the Fifth Schedule provides for the establishment of a Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) in any State having Scheduled Areas.
  • It has 20 members. Three-fourths of which are Scheduled Tribes’ representatives in that state legislative assembly.
  • If the number of representatives of the STs in the Legislative Assembly of the State is less than the number of seats in the TAC to be filled by such representatives, the remaining seats shall be filled by other members of those Tribes
  • The power to decide whether any central or state legislation implies the state having scheduled areas lies in the hands of the Governor.
  • Governor can also repeal or amend any regulations w.r.t to the state having scheduled areas but only with the assent of the President of India
  • No regulations shall be made unless the Governor (in case a Tribal Advisory Council exists) consults such Tribal Advisory Council.
  • The first commission to report on the administration and welfare of the Scheduled Areas was established in 1960 and was headed by UN Dhebar.
  • At present, 10 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Telangana have Fifth Schedule Areas.

The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas as well as of Scheduled Tribes residing in any State other than the above-mentioned States which have not been brought under the Fifth or Sixth Schedule.

Special Provisions for Sixth Schedule Areas

  • The sixth Schedule mentions the provisions related to the tribal areas of the four states – Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
Tribal areas in the four states
AssamNorth Cachar Hills District The Karbi Anglong District The Bodoland Territorial Areas District
MeghalayaKhasi Hills District Jaintia Hills District The Garo Hills District
TripuraTripura Tribal Areas District
MizoramThe Chakma District The Mara District The Lai District
  • A sizeable amount of autonomy has been given to the people belonging to the tribal areas of these four states to govern themselves
  • The tribal areas in these four states come under the name of ‘Autonomous Districts,’ but the state still has its executive authority over them
  • The power to organize and reorganize the tribal areas as autonomous districts lies with the governor of the state. He can also alter the name, and boundary of such tribal areas.
  • One autonomous district can have different tribes, which for better administration is divided into autonomous regions by the governor

There is a district council for each autonomous district:

  • It has 30 members.
  • 4 are nominated by the governor – They perform their duties at the pleasure of the governor
  • 26 are elected using the adult franchise – Their term of office is five years.
  • There is a separate regional council for each autonomous district
  • The laws related to the following can be made by the regional and autonomous councils with the assent of the governor:
    • Land
    • Forests
    • Canal water
    • Shifting cultivation
    • Village administration
    • Inheritance of property
    • Marriage and divorce
    • Social customs
  • The central and state acts do not apply to these autonomous and regional councils (unless modified and accepted).

Special Provisions For Other States

  • Part XXI of the Constitution, ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’, includes, apart from Article 370 (Temporary Provisions concerning the State of Jammu and Kashmir) Articles 371, 371A, 371B, 371C, 371D, 371E, 371F, 371G, 371H, and 371J, which define special provisions about other states of the Indian Union.
  • All these provisions take into account the special circumstances of individual states and lay down a wide range of specific safeguards that are deemed important for these states.
  • Article 371I – which deals with Goa, stands out in the sense that it does not include any provision that can be deemed “special”.
  • Article 371E – deals with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, too, is not that “special”.
    • substituted by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014)
  • Difference between Articles 370 and 371 compared to Articles 371A-H and 371J
    • Articles 370 and 371 have been part of the Constitution from the time of its commencement on January 26, 1950.
    • Articles 371A-H and 371J, however, were incorporated into the Constitution by Parliament through amendments under Article 368.
  • Maharashtra and Gujarat (Article 371)
  • Nagaland (Article 371A) (13th Amendment Act, 1962)
  • Assam (Article 371B) (22nd Amendment Act, 1969)
  • Manipur (Article 371C) (27th Amendment Act, 1971)
  • Sikkim (Article 371F) (36th Amendment Act, 1975)
  • Mizoram (Article 371G) (53rd Amendment Act, 1986)
  • Arunachal Pradesh (Article 371H) (55th Amendment Act, 1986)
  • Karnataka (Article 371J) (98th Amendment Act, 2012)

Related Links:

Fifth Schedule of Indian ConstitutionSixth Schedule of Indian Constitution
Supreme Court Verdict on Article 370Parts of Indian Constitution