Union Territories
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Union Territories – Indian Polity Notes

What are Union Territories (UTs): 

In our federal polity there are two constituent units: the Union and the States, which share power and govern at two levels. Union Territories are areas which are administered centrally and are under complete control of union government.

Creation of Union Territories:

  • An area within India can be declared as union territory through act passed by parliament. 
  • Parliament can upgrade status of Union Territory to state or downgrade states to Union Territories.
  • It is done mostly through Reorganization Acts. E.g. Arunachal Pradesh was upgraded from an union territory to state in 1986 via State of Arunachal Pradesh Act 1986

Union Territories in India:

  1. Andaman and Nicobar
  2. Lakshadweep
  3. Chandigarh
  4. Dadra Nagar Haveli & Daman and Diu.
  5. Ladakh
  6. Jammu and Kashmir
  7. Delhi
  8. Pondicherry

Constitutional Provisions:

Article 239Administration of Union Territories.
Article 239ACreation of local legislature 
Article 239AASpecial provisions for Delhi
Article 239 ABProvisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery.
Article 239 BPower of administrator to promulgate ordinances.
Article 240Power to President to make regulations for certain Union Territories. 
Article 241High Courts for Union Territories.
Constitutional Provisions of Union Territories

Administration of Union Territories (ARTICLE 239):

  • Union Territories are administered by the President of India through an administrator or directly by him/her.
  • There is no specific designation for administrator.
  • President can appoint the governor of state as an administrator of “adjoining union territory”.
  • When Governor of state will act as an administrator, he/she shall act independently of council of ministers.
  • Union government can bring an executive order for administration of Union Territories.
  • Parliament can also make laws for administration of Union Territories on all three lists(even if there is legislative assembly, Parliamentary laws prevail over their own assembly laws).

Article 240: Power of President to make regulations for peace, progress and good governance of Union territories of Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Dadra Nagar Haveli & Diu and Daman, Pondicherry.

Unique Part: Chandigarh is not mentioned. Delhi is not mentioned but Pondicherry is(both have legislative assemblies).

Special Provisions of Delhi:

  • Article 239AA added by 69th constitutional amendment act deals with Union Territory of Delhi along with this article, provisions of  Government of National Capital Territory Act govern Delhi.
  • This amendment was based on recommendations of Balakrishna Committee.
  • It has special status among other Union Territories. It is called as ‘National Capital Territory (NCT)’.
  • In case of any changes are made with regards to administration of Delhi, constitutional amendment is required.


  • This amendment provides for Legislative Assembly for Delhi. Like other states, the Delhi Assembly is empowered to make laws on all state & concurrent list subjects except Police, Land and Public Order. These three state subjects are kept outside control of Delhi Assembly.
    • Even on the subjects which come under power of legislative assembly, they don’t have exclusive power.
    • Under Government of National Capital Territory Act, no bill can be introduced without prior consent of Lieutenant Governor.
  • Delhi will have council of ministers led by Chief Minister to aid and advice Lieutenant Governor who will act according to aid and advice except where he is required to act in his discretion.
  • Delhi will have council of ministers whose strength shall not be more than 10% of total strength of assembly including the Chief Minister. Whereas in other states, maximum number of ministers cannot exceed 15% of strength of assembly.
  • In other states, council of ministers led by Chief Minister is appointed by the state governors but Delhi being Union Territory, ministers are appointed by the President (in practice by the Lieutenant Governor) on recommendation of Chief Minister.
  • In case of reservation in assembly, it will be decided by the Parliament by law. Delhi has reservation for SCs only, not for STs.
  • In case of conflict between Lieutenant Governor and Chief Minister matter will be referred to the President. In case, matter is urgent, then Lieutenant Governor can take decision.
  • Like other state Governors, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi can promulgate ordinances only during recess of assembly but with prior permission of the President.
  • President on receipt of report by the Lieutenant Governor or otherwise can declare imposition of President’s Rule in Delhi.
    • Constitutional Breakdown in Delhi means government is not running as per article 239AA OR for proper administration of Delhi is expedient to do so.

Views of Judiciary:

Royappa Case 1974 & Salil Sablok Case 2013:

  • Supreme Court held that position of Chief Secretary is too sensitive.
  • As per rules related to transaction of business, Chief Secretary is to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.
  • Lieutenant Governor is real executive of Delhi.
  • All Land(Delhi Development Authority) files go directly from Chief Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor. These files can bypass the Chief Minister.

Delhi Chief Minister vs Lieutenant Governor Case 2018:

Supreme Court gave broad guidelines in accordance to the parliamentary form of government.

  • Lieutenant Governor has no independent power to take decision, has to act on aid and advice by Chief Minister.
  • Delhi Government doesn’t require concurrence but keep Lieutenant Governor informed.
  • Lieutenant Governor should not act as adversary.
  • Lieutenant Governor has power only on land, police and public order.

Special Provisions for Puducherry:

Article 239A added by 7th Constitutional Amendment Act 1956 deals with Pondicherry. It provides for Legislative Assembly (Either elected or party elected and partly nominated).

Laws under article 240 will be made only when Assembly of Puducherry is either dissolved or suspended.

Article 241: Parliament may by law constitute the High Courts for Union Territories or can declare any court existing in such Union Territories as High Court or High Court of any other state can be declared as High Court of Union Territory.

Under this article, jurisdiction of Madras High Court is extended to cover Puducherry also.

Administration of Delhi and Puducherry is almost similar. Administration of Puducherry is guided by  Government of Union Territory Act 1963. Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is more powerful than the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry.

Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act 2021:

Post Delhi Chief Minister vs Lieutenant Governor Case 2018 Case this act was enacted to settle position of Lieutenant Governor vis a vis Chief Minister.

Key Highlights:

  • It changed meaning of word ‘government’ now it means Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
  • It enlarges scope of discretionary powers of Lieutenant Governor to matter on which assembly can make laws.
  • Act restricts the assembly or its committees from making regulations on day to day administration and conducting inquiry in administrative relations.
  • Act mandates that all executive actions of government are to be taken under name of the Lieutenant Governor.
  • Act further provides on certain issues opinion of Lieutenant Governor has to be taken before decision are taken by Ministers.

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