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A union territory is a type of administrative division in the Republic of India. Unlike the states of India, which have their own governments, union territories are usually federal territories governed directly by the central Government of India.
When the Indian Constitution was adopted in 1949, there was only one union territory: Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The National Capital Territory of Delhi, Chandigarh and Lakshadweep were formed by separating each territory from pre-existing states. Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Puducherry were formed from acquired territories that formerly belonged to Portuguese India or French India.
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 nine union territories, including Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.
Delhi, Puducherry and Jammu & Kashmir operate differently from the other six. Delhi and Puducherry 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 (India) (NCR). Delhi, Puducherry and Jammu & Kashmir have an elected legislative assembly and an executive council of ministers with partially state-like function.
In July 2019, the Government of India was reportedly planning to merge the union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli into a single union territory to be known as Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Article 1 (1) of the Indian constitution says that India shall be a "Union of States",33 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. 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.
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.
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.
List of union territories
Union territories with their own elected legislatures and governments:
Union territories without elected legislatures:
- Dadra and Nagar Haveli
- Daman and Diu
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Former union territories:
- Arunachal Pradesh (1972–1987)
- Goa, Daman and Diu (1961–1987)
- Himachal Pradesh (1956–1971)
- Manipur (1956–1972)
- Mizoram (1972–1987)
- Nagaland (1957–1963)
- Tripura (1956–1972)
- Staff Selection Commission
- Federalism in India
- Lawmaking procedure in India
- List of amendments of the Constitution of India
- List of Acts of the Parliament of India
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