Process of Creation of New States and Changes in Names of States in India

Article 1(1) of the constitution of India says that “India, that is Bharat, shall be Union of States”. The word Union was deliberately chosen in place of Federation to indicate that Indian Union is not the result of an agreement between states {which can be broken at whim} and its component states have no freedom to secede from it. Thus, while states can be broken, reorganized by alternation of boundaries, the country is a union which cannot be broken. Central Government can change the name, boundaries of the states without their permission also. That is why Dr. B R Ambedkar called India as an “indestructible Union of destructible states“.

Creation of New States

The First schedule of the constitution has the list of all the states and union territories.  A new state in India can be created by three different means as follows:

  • Breaking / reorganizing an existing state(s)
  • Giving status of full-fledged state to a union territory
  • Acquiring a new territory
Breaking / reorganizing an existing state(s)

Article 3 empowers the parliament to create new states and alter the areas, boundaries or names of existing States by making suitable law.

Giving status of full-fledged state to a union territory

A union territory may be upgraded to a full-fledged state by making suitable law in parliament.

Acquiring a new Territory

Being a sovereign state, India like other sovereign states has inherent power to acquire the new territories. This implies that whenever a new territory is acquired (by war, international agreements etc) there is no need to make a law. However, its formal assimilation into the union has to be done by parliament by making suitable legislation as per Article 2.

Thus, all the three means to admit new states in Union need a law by the parliament. Such legislation of law also follows suitable changes in the First schedule of the constitution. However, such changes don’t amount to be called as Constitution amendments (article 4)

Procedure of changing a name of state

Process for changing the name of a state can be initiated by state itself. However, by virtue of article 3, the parliament has power to change the name of a state even if such proposal does not come from the concerned state.

If initiated by state assembly

The state assembly would first pass a resolution for such change and this passed resolution would be sent to central government. Central Government will create a bill and this bill will be sent back to the state legislature to express its views in a stipulated time. The state legislature will need to give its views within this time as fixed by president. Once this time is expired, the president will recommend to intrduce that bill in parliament. Once introduced, the bill will be passed, and president would give assent. Thus, the name of state would be changed. The example of such change is change in name of Orissa to Odisha. The Government of Orissa initiated this change in 2008 when it forwarded a resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly of Orissa to central government to change the name of state from Orissa to Odisha. This bill was passed as Orissa (Alteration of Name) Act, 2010.

Without a proposal of state

Article 3 empowers the parliament make changes in area, boundaries, territory, name of states even if such proposal does not come from the concerned state. For this purpose, the central government can simply get a bill passed in the parliament. However, constitution mandates that whenever such things need to be done, states must be given an opportunity to express their views. Thus, first central government will create a bill, but this bill can be introduced in parliament only by recommendation of the president. Before making such recommendation, President would send this bill to concerned state legislature and give it a fixed time to express its view on that matter. However, state’s view has no actual impact for fate of such bill. Whether the state says yes or no, once the time given to it has passed, the President may recommend the bill to be introduced in any house of parliament. Once passed the name of state gets changed.

Thus, we can conclude that:

  • Alternation of names, boundaries etc. of states is a prerogative of parliament and parliament has final say on this matter.
  • Such a bill is introduced in parliament by prior recommendation of president {because states’ interests may be involved here}
  • States are asked to express their views in stipulated time but practically their view does not matter. Once that time is expired, parliament can enact the law even if they say no.
Legal process of ceding a territory to other country

Every country has some border disputes. Such disputes are solved by diplomacy or bargaining or by war. The process of forming news states and admitting new territories in the Union and the process of ceding territory to another country, both are done under article 3 however, the process of later is different from former. This difference arose due to the Supreme Court verdict in the Berubari Union case whereby the court mandated that Parliament of India is not competent enough to cede a territory. However, to make such an agreement effective, Parliament would need to enact an amendment of the Constitution. So, whenever India ceded a territory, parliament has amended the constitution. As a recent example, the recent Land Boundary Act between India and Bangladesh resulted in ceding some Indian territory to Bangladesh, and acquiring some Bangladeshi territory by India. For ceding the territory, India needed to enact the 100th Constitutional Amendment Act.

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