PARLIAMENT’S POWER TO REORGANIZE STATES

Article 2 provides that the Parliament may by law admit into Union, or establish, new States on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit. The power given under Article 2 is very wide. Supreme Court in RC Poudyal v. Union of India, AIR 1993 SC 1804 interpreted the expression ‘on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit’ used in Article 2 and held that it does not confer unfettered power on Parliament. The power is limited by the fundamentals of Indian Constitutionalism and such terms cannot be inconsistent with the foundational principles of the Constitution. Similarly in Mangal Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1967 SC 944 Supreme Court held that power conferred under Article 2 is not a power to override constitutional scheme.

Article 3 of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to form new States, alter area, boundaries and names of existing States in the following manner-

1.     By separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to be a part of State;

2.     Increase the area of any State;

3.     Diminish the area of any State; 

4.     Alter the boundaries of any State;

5.     Change the name of any State.

All the above matters are related to the reorganization of State. The word ‘State’ includes ‘Union Territories’ also. This power is solely vested in Parliament. Article 3 provides an easy and simple method for reorganization of the States at any point of time. In Raja Ram Pal v. Speaker Lok Sabha, (2007) 3 SCC 184 Supreme Court reiterated that power under Article 3 is vested solely and exclusively with Parliament. That is why it has been said that ‘India is an indestructible Union of destructible States’.  There are however, two conditions which are to be satisfied in this procedure.

Firstly : No Bill under the above provision will be presented before any House of the Parliament without the recommendation of the President [Proviso to Article 3].

Secondly : If the Bill proposes to affect area, boundaries or name of the State, the President is required to refer the Bill to the State Legislature for its views. If the State Legislature does not express its views within the time specified the Bill can be presented in the Parliament [Proviso to Article 3].

Even if the State Legislature has expressed its views, the Parliament is not bound to accept or act upon such view. This position was clarified by the Supreme Court in the case of Babulal Parate v. State of Mumbai, AIR 1960 SC 51.

The term ‘State’ in Article 3 includes ‘Union Territory’ but in proviso the term ‘State’ does not include ‘Union Territory’ [Explanation I to Article 3].

Consequential amendment: According to Article 4 (1) if any law is made under provisions of Article 2 or 3 it shall contain suitable amendments in First and Fourth Schedule of the Constitution. Article 4(2) further says that such laws shall not be considered amendments for the provision of Article 368. Supreme Court in Mullaperiyar Environmental Protection Forum v. Union of India, (2006) 3 SCC 643 held that power of Parliament to make laws under Article 3 and 4 is plenary and traverses over all legislative subjects for effectuating a proper reorganization of States. Constitutional validity of a law under Article 3 and 4 cannot be challenged on the ground of lack of legislative competence.

Further, in State of Uttaranchal v. Siddharth Srivastava, (2003) 9 SCC 336 Supreme Court held that the law made under Article 3 and 4 can also make supplemental, incidental and consequential provisions relating to setting up of legislative, executive and judicial organs of the State essential for effective administration. In AP State Council of Higher Education v. Union of India, (2016) 6 SCC 635 Supreme Court held that when an existing State is bifurcated, there must be equitable bifurcation of assets and liabilities of thee statutory bodies among the States.

Author & Former Judge

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