Union and its Territory
Articles 1 to 4 under Part-I of the Constitution deal with the Union and its territory.
Article 1 : Name and territory of the Union
(1) India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.
(2) The States and the territories thereof shall be as specified in the First Schedule.
(3) The territory of India shall comprise –
(a) the territories of the States;
(b) the Union territories specified in the First Schedule; and
(c) such other territories as may be acquired.
- The country is described as ‘Union’ although its Constitution is federal in structure. According to Dr B R Ambedkar, the phrase ‘Union of States’ has been preferred to ‘Federation of States’ for two reasons: one, the Indian Federation is not the result of an agreement among the states like the American Federation; and two, the states have no right to secede from the federation. The federation is an Union because it is indestructible. The country is an integral whole and divided into different states only for the convenience of administration.
- The ‘Territory of India’ is a wider expression than the ‘Union of India’ because the latter includes only states while the former includes not only the states but also union territories and territories that may be acquired by the Government of India at any future time.
- Being a sovereign state, India can acquire foreign territories according to the modes recognised by international law, i.e., cession (following treaty, purchase, gift, lease or plebiscite), occupation (hitherto unoccupied by a recognised ruler), conquest or subjugation. For example, India acquired several foreign territories such as Dadra and Nagar Haveli; Goa, Daman and Diu; Puducherry; and Sikkim since the commencement of the Constitution.
- The territorial waters and the exclusive economic zones shall also become part of the states or union territories in the absence of any listing of them separately in Schedule 1 and 4 of the constitution.
- An economic zone (EEZ) is a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its coast.
- The difference between the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone is that the first confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the second is merely a “sovereign right” which refers to the coastal state’s rights below the surface of the sea. The surface waters, as can be seen in the map, are international waters.
- The constitution (40th amendment) act, 1976, substituted a new Article 297 so as to vest in Union of India all lands, minerals, and other things of value underlying the ocean within the territorial waters or continental shelf or exclusive economic zone of India.
- The territorial waters, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone and other maritime zones act, 1976 was enacted by the Indian government to notify the sovereign rights on these areas for dealings with other countries.
- However, it is not clear whether states are debarred from imposing taxes or royalty on the minerals extracted from the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone (which are still under states jurisdiction) as per serial no. 50 of state list in seventh schedule of the constitution.