Before delving into the difference between states and union territories (UTs), it’s imperative to understand why these UTs were formed in the first place and what was the concept behind establishing a territory, distinct from the state.
Why Union Territories were Formed ?
As far as history goes, the union territories were either not a part of India during independence or they were too small to be made into a state as per the provision of the Constitution. During the discussion on reorganisation of states in 1956, the States Reorganisation Commission recommended creation of a different category for these territories since they neither fit the model of a state, nor do they follow a uniform pattern when it comes to governance.
It was observed that these “economically unbalanced, financially weak, and administratively and politically unstable” territories can’t survive as separate administrative units without depending heavily on the Union government. Thus the Union Territories were formed.
In certain cases, the government of India deliberately chose not to merge smaller territories with the neighbouring states due to a host of reasons. While in some cases the status of “Union Territory” was assigned to a region for safeguarding the rights of indigenous cultures, there had been other instances wherein a portion of geographical landmass was made into a union territory to maintain military prowess and also to avert political turmoil.
Fundamental Difference between States and Union Territories
To start with the fundamentals, states are the administrative units having their own governments. On the contrary, UTs are ruled directly by the central government through Lieutenant Governor as the administrator. He is appointed by the Central government and is also a representative of thePresident of India. Although UTs have the option of forming respective governments and having a Legislature with elected Members and a Chief Minister (like New Delhi and Puducherry), yet the powers of such governments are lesser than the state governments.
Article 240 of Indian Constitution
According to Article 240, the President of India has the power to make regulations for certain UTs. The regulations could be for peace, progress and good government of the UT. In case a UT has a Legislature in place, the President shall not have the authority to make any regulation with effect from the first day of the meeting of the Legislature.
However, if the legislature is dissolved, or its functioning remains suspended, the President can immediately take over and make regulations for good governance of that UT. The regulation made by the President may “repeal or amend any Act made by Parliament or any other law which is for the time being applicable to the Union territory.” When the regulation is announced by the President, it has the same effect as an Act of Parliament.
Legislative Assemblies for Union Territories & Their Composition
According to the provisions under Section 3 of the Government of Union Territories Act, each UT has the option of forming a Legislative Assembly and selecting its members through direct election from territorial constituencies. The Central Government cannot nominate more than three persons (not involved in government service) to be members of the Legislative Assembly of the UT. Like in state legislatures, the seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes in the Assembly of the UT. The number of seats reserved should be same in proportion to the total number of seats in the assembly.
The number of Council of Ministers should not exceed ten percent of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly. Chief Minister is considered the head of the council of ministers whose primary function is to “aid and advise the Lieutenant Governor in the exercise of his functions in matters related to which the Legislative Assembly has power to make laws.”
In case of any difference of opinion between the Lieutenant Governor and his Ministers, the former can refer it to the President and act according to the decision given by him.