The Special Union Territories!!!

Delhi & Puducherry are the only two Union Territories (“UTs”) who participate in the election of President of India. Why,  is the next question that arises in our curious minds!!! The fact that prevails here is that this are the only two union territories in India that have their own legislative assemblies !!!

As per the definition and meaning of Union Territory, the said territories shall be run directly by Union. They don’t have any elected representative bodies like that of state. However, Delhi being the capital of the nation has been given a partial statehood and is being called as National Capital Territory (“NCT”). It allows Delhi to enjoy a special privilege of having a Legislative Assembly therein.

However, in the case of Puducherry, the agreement between France and India pertaining to “De jure cessation of French Establishments in India” dated 28th May 1956, is responsible for the formation of the Legislative Assembly.

The said status of partial statehood can be conferred by the Parliament of India by amending the Constitution.

First let’s talk about Delhi in detail. Delhi being capital of our country since 13 February 1931, it has administrative significance.  If we go back to 17th Century, Delhi was the capital of India. After the British conquest of India, capital was Calcutta till February 1931 before shifting it to Delhi.  With such a long history Delhi has always been of prime importance for every government.

After independence Indian territory was divided into 28 States and 7 Union territories. As we all know Delhi was a Union territory fully governed by Central government. In 1991 Delhi was given a special status with 69th amendment of our constitution. Delhi is now officially known as National capital Territory of Delhi. The amendment introduced a new form of diarchial government where legislative assembly was given powers for taking decisions about National Capital Territory and some of the powers still remain with the Central government.  Some of points in amendment are given below.

  • The amendment allowed to form a legislative assembly and its members are chosen directly through popular vote by the citizens of Delhi.
  • The legislative assembly can make laws for any mentioned topic in the State list except topics 1(Public Order), 2(Police which includes railway police as well as state police) and 18(Lands).
  • Laws made by the state assembly are repugnant if there has been laws made by Centre for the same issue. Hence same as other states, law by Central government has priority over law made by state government. But in case of Delhi if a law has different provisions than Centre and has received President assent then the law of legislative assembly shall prevail.

So National Capital Territory of Delhi with 70 legislative members is a very good example of diarchial governance.

Further speaking about Puducherrry, we all are aware about the fact that it was a region ruled by France until 21st October 1954 on which date an agreement was signed between the two nations pertaining to transferring the powers of French Republic to the Government of Indian Union. In the conclusion of the said rule, last treaty was executed between the aforesaid two nations which is known as ” TREATY BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF FRANCE AND INDIA ESTABLISHING CESSION BY THE FRENCH REPUBLIC TO THE INDIAN UNION OF THE FRENCH ESTABLISHMENTS IN INDIA” dated 28th May 1956.

However, Article II of the said treaty read as follows:

Article II

The Establishments will keep the benefit of the special administrative status which was in force prior to 1 November, 1954. Any constitutional changes in this status which may be made subsequently shall be made after ascertaining the wishes of the people.”

Hence, in furtherance to the aforesaid article in the said agreement, Puducherry was given Special Administrative Rights wherein it has its own legislation.

However, unlike Delhi the Puducherry Government can legislate any matter that occurs in Concurrent and State lists. However, if in conflict with the Center, law as passed by center prevails.




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