The Union Territories:
There are 7 Union territories viz. Chandigarh, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Pondicherry. Due to strategic, political and administrative considerations, the union territories have been placed under central administration.
• Union territories in India qualify as federal territories, by definition. But, do not take part in federal structure of the country.
• No uniform system of administration as parliament has the power to prescribe the structure of administration.
• A union territory is a type of administrative division in the Republic of India. Unlike the states, which have their own elected governments, union territories are ruled directly by the Union Government (Central Government), hence the name ‘union territory’.
• 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. There are seven union territories, including Delhi, the capital of India, and Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.
• Delhi and Puducherry (Pondicherry) operate somewhat differently from the other five. Delhi and Puducherry were given partial statehood and Delhi was redefined as the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT). Delhi and Puducherry have their own elected legislative assemblies and the executive councils of ministers with partially state-like function.
President may appoint Governor of a state as administrative of adjoining UT, who shall exercise his functions independent of his COMs.
Important Points to Remember:
• UT of Pondicherry & Delhi – Legislative assembly with Council of Ministers & Chief Minister.
• Size of CoMs is to be 10 % maximum of legislative assembly.
• Parliament can make laws on any subject given in 3 lists (Power also extends to Delhi & Pondicherry even though they have their own legislature).
• Pondicherry & Delhi can also make laws on any subject of state list & concurrent list except laws related to Public order, Police & land.
• President may frame regulations for peace, progress & good governance for all UTs except Delhi & Pondicherry
• Parliament is empowered to constitute a high court for any of the UT or even can declare an existing court there as high court.
Link between Parliament & UT, consulted by Government in regards to:
• General questions of policy relating to administration of subjects in state list.
• All legislative proposals in state list pertaining to the territories.
• Matters relating to annual financial statement of territories.
Administration of Union Territories (Art. 239):
A Union Territory is administered by the President acting through an administrator to be appointed by him with such designation as he may specify. There is no uniformity in the designation of the administrator. It is at some places Lieutenant Governor (e.g., Delhi and Puducherry) at other Chief Commissioner or Administrator. The Governor of state may be appointed as Administrator of an adjoining Union Territory. An Administrator of Union Territories is not a head of state like a Governor but is an agent of the President.
Legislature and Council of Ministers in Union Territories (Art. 239A):
In 1962 Art. 239A was inserted in the constitution empowering Parliament to create legislature or a Council of Ministers or both for some of the Union Territories. In exercise of this power the Parliament passed the government of Union Territories Act, 1963, which created a legislature as well as a Council of Ministers for some of the Union Territories. As some of the territories have become states now, only Delhi and Puducherry are now left in this class. Creation of legislative Assembly or a Council of Ministers by enacting a law is not treated as an amendment of the constitution for the purpose of Art. 368.
Special provisions for Delhi:
• The 69th Amendment Act, 1992 has added two new Art. 239AA and Art. 239AB under which the Union Territory of Delhi has been given a special status.
• Art. 239AA provides that the Union Territory of Delhi shall now be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi and its administrator shall be known as Lt. Governor.
• It also creates a legislative assembly for Delhi which can make laws on the state list and concurrent list except on these matters: public order, land and police.
• It also provides for a Council of Ministers for Delhi consisting of not more than 10% of the total number of members in the assembly.
• The President shall make appointments to the Council of Ministers including the Chief Minister.
Position of President and Administer:
Union Territories are centrally administered under Art. 29. They do not get merged with the central government and form part of no state. They do not loose their existence as a separate entity though the not central government controls them. The administrator functions as delegate of the President and will have to Act under the orders of the President that is the central government.
Constitutional break down (Art.239 AA):
If a situation arises in which the administration of the national capital territory cannot be carried on in accordance with Art. 239AA or the Act of 1991 etc. the President may on receipt of a report from the Lieutenant Governor or otherwise suspend the operation of the above laws and make such incidental or consequential provisions as may appear to him necessary. (Art. 239AB).
The President may take action on the report of the Lieutenant Governor or otherwise. This provision resembles Art. 356.
Ordinance making power (Art. 239B):
Article 239 B gives the administrator power to promulgate an ordinance when the legislative assembly of a Union Territory is not in session. An ordinance may be promulgated only after obtaining instructions from the President.
Power of the President to make regulations (Art. 240):
The President has the power to make regulations for the peace, order and good government of the Union Territory of:
(a) Andaman and Nicobar islands
(c) Dadra and Nagara Haveli
(d) Daman and Diu.
Since, these territories do not have a legislature; the legislative function is assigned to the President.
In the case of Puducherry also, the president can legislate by making regulations but only when the assembly is suspended or dissolved.
High Court for Union Territory (Art. 241):
• Parliament may by-law constitute a High Court for a Union Territory or declare the High Court of a state having jurisdiction over a Union Territory.
• The Punjab and Haryana High Court has jurisdiction over Chandigarh.
• The Kerala High Court caters to Lakshadweep. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are under the Calcutta High Court.
• Puducherry falls under Madras High Court.
• The Bombay High Court is the High Court for Dadar and Nagar Haveli as also for Daman and Diu. Delhi is the only Union Territory having its own High Court Since 1966.
69th AMENDMENT 1991:
• UT of Delhi shall be called National capital territory & shall have a legislative assembly with members, chosen directly by people from territorial constituencies. (Special Provisions related to the Delhi- Art. 239AA).
• The administrator thereof appointed under article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant Governor.
• Assembly shall make laws on matter enumerated in state list (Except matters of Public order, Police & land).
• If any provision of law, made by legislative assembly with respect to any matter which is repugnant to any provision of law made by parliament related to that matter, then law made by parliament shall prevail & law made by LA shall to the extent of repugnancy, be void.
• If law made by LA is preserved for consideration of President & has received his assent, then such law shall prevail in NCT, however, parliament can make laws adding to, varying or repealing laws made by LA.
• There shall be COMs, not more than 1/10th of total members of Legislative Assembly, with CM at its apex to aid & advice Lt. governor in exercise of his functions.
• In case of difference between opinions of COMs & Lt. governor, Lt. governor shall refer it to the President for his decision & shall act according to directions given by President.
– 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.