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Union territories in India for UPSC Exam

Under Article 1 of the Constitution, the territory of India comprises three categories of territories:

(a) Territories of the states

(b) Union territories

(c) Territories that may be acquired by the Government of India at any time.

  • At present, there are Eight union territories and no acquired territories.
  • The union territories are those areas which are under the direct control and administration of

the Central government. They are also known as ‘centrally administered territories.

  • Existence of these territories constitutes are departure from federalism in India


  • In 1956 ‘union territories’ were constituted by the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act (1956) and the States Reorganisation Act (1956).
  • Some of these union territories have been elevated to statehood like Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa, which are states today were formerly union territories.

Union Territories are:

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Chandigarh
  3. Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
  4. National Capital Territory of Delhi
  5. Jammu and Kashmir
  6. Lakshadweep
  7. Ladakh
  8. Puducherry.

The union territories have been created for a variety of reasons like

  1. Political and administrative consideration—Delhi and Chandigarh.
  2. Cultural distinctiveness—Puducherry, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
  3. Strategic importance—Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.4
  4. Special treatment and care of the backward and tribal people—Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh which later became states.


Articles 239 to 241 in Part VIII of the Constitution deal with the union territories and there is no uniformity in their administrative system.

  • Every union territory is administered by the President through an administrator appointed by him.
  • Administrator of a union territory is an agent of the Central government and is not the head of state like a governor.
  • The President can also appoint the governor of a state as the administrator of an adjoining union territory.
  • Not all the UT’s have an administrator, some are directly governed by president.

Difference between a state and union territory

9 Union Territories and 28 States -India -

Power of parliament to make laws

  • The Parliament can make laws on any subject of the three lists (including the State List) for the union territories.
  • The President can make regulations for the peace, progress and good government of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.
  • A regulation made by the President has the same force and effect as an act of Parliament
  • The Parliament can establish a high court for a union territory

Constitutional provisions for Delhi

  • Art 239 –  Union territory shall be administered by the President through an Administrator to be appointed by the President.
  • Article 239A provides for Creation of local Legislatures or Council of Ministers or both for certain Union Territories.
  • Article 239AA of the Indian Constitution was added by Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991. It says that Union Territory of Delhi shall be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Administrator thereof appointed under Article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant Governor.          
  • There shall be a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory (NCT


  • The act created a legislative assembly and a council of ministers for Delhi.
  • The strength of the assembly is fixed at 70 members, directly elected by the people.
  • The elections are conducted by the election commission of India.
  • The assembly can make laws on all the matters of the State List except the three matters of the  state List, that is, public order, police and land.
  • The laws of Parliament prevail over those made by the Assembly.
  • The strength of the council of ministers is fixed at ten per cent of the total strength of the assembly,
  • The chief minister is appointed by the President.
    • The ministers hold office during the pleasure of the president.
  • The council of ministers headed by the chief minister aid and advise the lt.
  • The lt. governor is empowered to promulgate ordinances during recess of the assembly.

Supremacy of of Lt. governor vs state legislature.

  • SC was of the opinion that, Democratically elected government has more powers than the nominated Lt. governor and Governor is bound by the recommendation of the Council of Ministers.
  • In the case of difference of opinion between the lt. governor and his ministers, the lt. governor is to refer the matter to the president for decision and act accordingly.
  • Supreme Court held that governance of Delhi cannot rest upon the whims of one functionary namely the Lieutenant-Governor as he cannot refer every matter of the Delhi Government to the President. This will create work paralysis. 

Way ahead

  • It refers to the collaborative nature of functioning of Union along with states so as to ensure development and progress.
  • The concept of collaborative federalism applies to Delhi owing to its special status under the Constitution.

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