Indian Union and its Territory


The Indian Constitution is the world’s longest constitution of any sovereign nation. Initially, the Indian Constitution had a preamble and 395 articles, which are grouped into 22 parts and 8 schedules. The Indian Constitution is the second-longest active constitution—after the Constitution of Alabama—in the world.

After being made the Indian Constitution, the Constitution of India has been amended several times. At present, the Indian constitution has a preamble and 470 articles, which are grouped into 25 parts and 12 schedules. It also contains five appendices.

The first part and first schedule of the Indian Constitution describes the Indian union and its territories from Article 1 to Article 4. The first part of the constitution contains the law for the establishment of new states, renaming the existing states, and merging or altering the borders of the existing states.

So now, let us see in detail the first part and first schedule of the constitution, i.e., the Indian Union and its territory and its articles.

Article 1

Article 1 lays down that ‘India, that is, Bharat’, is a ‘Union of States’, which means that the Indian federation is not the result of agreement by the states, and no state has the right to secede from it. Therefore, the country of India is an integral whole and divided into different states only for the convenience of administration.  But the political structure prescribed by the Constitution of India is a federal Union.

This provision deals with two things: first, the name of the country, and second, the type of polity.

The members of the Constituent Assembly had not unanimously agreed on the name of the country. Some of the members suggested the traditional name that is Bharat and others advocated the modern name that is India. Hence, the Constituent Assembly adopted a mix of both ‘India, that is, Bharat’.

According to Article 1, the territory of India can be classified into three categories:

  1. Territories of the states
  2. Union territories
  3. Any territories that may be acquired by the Government of India at any time.

The expression ‘Territory of India’ is a wider expression than the ‘Union of India’ because ‘Union of India’ includes only the States which enjoy the status of being members of the federal system and share distribution of powers with the Union, while ‘Territory of India’ includes not only the States but also Union territories and those territories that may be acquired by the Government of India at any future time.

At present, the members of the ‘Union of India’ are the twenty-eight States. These are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal. These States are the members of the federal system and share a distribution of powers with the Centre. While the members of the ‘Union Territories’ at present are eight. These are Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry. Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, and Puducherry are the Union territories with the legislature, and the rest of the Union territories are centrally administered areas, to be governed by the President, acting through an ‘Administrator’ appointed by him.

The names of States and Union territories and their territorial extent are mentioned in the first schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Being a sovereign state, India can acquire foreign territories by purchase, treaty, cession or conquest, and these acquired territories become a part of the territory of India. These will be administered by the Government of India subject to legislation by Parliament.

For example, India has acquired several foreign territories such as Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Sikkim.

 Article 2

Article 2 empowers the parliament to admit new States into the Union of India, or establish new States on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit. Thus, Article 2 empowers two powers to the Parliament:

  1. The power to admit new states into the Union of India.
  2. The power to establish new States.

The first part refers to the admission of States which are already in existence while the second part refers to the establishment of States which were not in existence before. Hence, Article 2 relates to the admission or establishment of new states that are not part of the Union of India.

 Article 3

Article 3 empowers the Parliament to:

  1. Form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or part of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State,
  2. increase the area of any State,
  3. diminish the area of any State,
  4. alter the boundaries of any State,
  5. alter the name of any State.

However, Article 3 imposes two conditions in this regard: First, the Article 3-related bill can be introduced in the Parliament only with the prior recommendations of the President.

Secondly, before recommending the bill, the President has to send the same bill to the State legislature of the concerned State for expressing views and State opinion must be expressed within a specified period which is given by the President.

However, the President or Parliament is not bound by the views of the State legislature and may either accept or reject them. It is not necessary to make a fresh reference to the state legislature every time an amendment to the bill is moved and accepted in Parliament.

Furthermore, the Parliament also has power to form a Union territory by uniting a part of any State or Union territory to any State or Union territory. In the case of the union territory, no reference is needed, and Parliament can take any action as it deems fit.

It is clear that the Indian Constitution empowers the Parliament to form new states or alter the areas, boundaries or name of existing states without their consent. Therefore, we can say that the Indian Parliament can redraw the political map of India according to its will. Hence, the territorial integrity or continued existence of any State is not guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

Therefore, we can describe India as ‘an indestructible union of destructible states’. The Union Government of India can destroy the states, whereas the state governments cannot destroy the Union.

On the other hand, in the USA, the territorial integrity and the continued existence of a state is guaranteed by the Constitution. The American Federal Government cannot form new states or alter the borders of the existing states without the consent of the states concerned. Therefore, the USA is described as ‘an indestructible union of indestructible states’.

 Article 4

Article 4 makes it clear that laws made for admission or establishment of new States (under Article 2) and formation of new States, alteration of areas, boundaries, and names of the existing States (under Article 3) are not to be considered as amendments of the constitution under Article 368. This means that laws made under Article 2 and Article 3 can be passed by a simple majority and by the ordinary legislative process.

In the Indian Constitution, the provision for the acquisition of fresh territory, admission and formation of new States is made. While there is no provision for cession or transfer of Indian territory.

In the year 1960, the Supreme Court held (In case of Berubari Union) that the power of Parliament to diminish the area of a state (under Article 3) does not cover cession of Indian territory to a foreign country. Hence, the cession or transfer of Indian territory for a foreign country required amendments in the Constitution under the Article 368. It cannot be done under Article 3.

Hence, Indian territory can be ceded to a foreign state only by amending the Constitution under Article 368.

In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that the settlement of a boundary dispute between India and another country does not require a Constitutional Amendment. It can be done by executive action as it does not involve cession of Indian territory to a foreign country. Article 4 provides that any law referred to in Article 2 and Article 3 may contain supplemental, incidental and consequential provisions for making itself effective and may amend the First and Fourth Schedules of the Constitution, without going through the special formality of a law for the amendment of the Constitution as prescribed by Article 368.

To know about the Article Related to Union and its territories, refer to the table below:

Article No.



Name and territory of the Union


Admission or establishment of new states


Formation of new States and alteration of areas,

boundaries or name of existing states


Laws made under Article 2 and Article 3 to provide for the amendment of the First and the Fourth Schedules and supplemental, incidental and consequential matters. 

 Note- Article 2 relates to the admission or establishment of new states that are not part of the Union of India. Article 3, on the other hand, relates to the formation of or changes in the existing states of the Union of India.


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