In a historic decision, the union government today decided to bifurcate the northernmost state of the country Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. Along with scrapping the Article 370 of the constitution that gave the state special status, the government decided that the state will be split into two regions, Jammu and Kashmir will be a union territory with a legislature, and Ladakh will be the other union territory without any legislature.
This decision reduces the number of states in India from 29 to 28 and increases the number of union territories from 7 to 9.
According to the Article 1 (1) of the Constitution of India says that India is a union of states, which includes states, union territories, and any other territory that may be acquired by India. The main difference between the two is that states are run by the respective state governments, while the union territories are areas under the administrative control of the central government.
But two of the union territories have the special privilege of having own legislature, National Territory of Delhi and Puducherry. These two union territories elect their legislators to the respective legislative assembly, and the party with a majority in the house forms a government, just like full-fledged states, but with some powers curtailed. The other five union territories, Andaman and Nicobar, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, and Lakshadweep, don’t have any assembly and they are completely governed by the union government through the Lieutenant Governor. The governments of union territories with legislative assemblies have powers in most areas like full-fledged states, except control over police, law and order, municipal services and land.
Now the two newly formed union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh will belong to both the categories. Jammu and Kashmir become a union territory with a legislature, which means it will have a legislative assembly, and a state government. But the Lieutenant Governor will have greater power compared to the current governor. On the hand, the Ladakh region will become a union territory but it will not have any legislative assembly and state government, it will be completely under the control of the central government and its representative Lieutenant Governor will run the administration of the region.
The most important implication of this decision is that the police force in the current state will come under the control of the Union Home Ministry. In Jammu and Kashmir union territory, a tug-of-war for power between the state government and the centre can be seen, just like Delhi. Ladakh will not have any such issue as there will be no state government or legislative assembly.