Formation and Cessation of New States in the Territory of India

Formation and Cessation of New States in the Territory of India

“India is an indestructible Union of destructible units”

-Dr. B. R. Ambedkar


The supreme law of the land, our Constitution declares India to be a ‘Union of states’. This means that the Republic of India is defined as a Union of states. All the small units of India were brought together by the State Reorganisation Commission to create the Mega territory of the country India with an area of 3,287,240 Sq km; 28 States and 9 Union Territories. Article 1 declares India to be an Union of States. An union which is indestructible. Indian Constitution in its Part 1 empowers the Parliament to form new states, alter boundaries of existing states or to cede a territory of India. There is a procedure for this and also this power of the Parliament is not absolute. This article will throw light on this topic in detail.

What is the meaning of Formation ,Cession and Alteration of new States?

Formation and Cession of new States as provided under Article 3 means-

  • Forming a new State by separation of territory from any existing State or by uniting two or more States or parts of two or more States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State
  • Increasing the area of any existing State
  • Diminishing the area of any existing State
  • Altering the boundaries of any existing State
  • Altering the name of any existing State

Procedure of Forming New States

The Constitution of India under Article 2 empowers the Parliament to admit into the Union, or establish, new States on such terms and conditions, as it thinks fit and the procedure for the same is provided under Article 3 which is as follows: 

➧ The President recommends a bill for this purpose

➧ The bill is then sent to the respective State legislature for recommendations for a specified period of time which may be extended by the President if deemed necessary. However, neither the President, nor the Parliament is bound to accept the recommendations made by the State Assembly

➧ The bill is then presented in either house of the Parliament and it has to be passed by simple majority by both the houses of the Parliament

➧ Then the Bill is sent to the President for assent

Recently created States or changes made in names of the states

Creation of a new state- Telangana 

One of the recently formed states in India is Telangana. The state came into existence on June 4, 2014 after a long history of political agitations and negotiations. Initially it was part of the state Andhra Pradesh (annexed with Andhra Pradesh in 1956)  which was conquered by Indian troops by invading the Nizam ruled princely state of Hyderabad and adding it to the Indian territory back in 1948. The Nizam Hukumat came to an end and democracy was established there. In 1969 a political movement broke out there which was a result of the non-implementation of Gentlemen’s Agreement and continued discrimination to Telangana region in government jobs, education and public spending. 

On November 29, 2009, K. Chandrashekhar Rao along with his allies declared an infinite fast until their demand for separate state of Telangana was not accepted by the Union Government. On December 9, 2009 the infinite fast by the leaders came to an end after the assurance given by then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to initiate the legislation for creation of Telangana. The bill was passed by both houses of the Parliament in February 2013. Ultimately, on June 4, 2014 Telangana got its status of separate statehood.

Renamed cities 

The renaming of a state/cities requires Parliamentary approval under Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution, and the President has to refer the same to the relevant state legislature for its views. It is a very simple and less complicated process. Some of the recently renamed cities are and states are- 

  • Allahabad to Prayagraj (2018)
  • New Raipur to Atal Nagar (2018)
  • Gurgaon to Gurugram (2016)
  • Mysore to Mysuru (2014)
  • Orissa to Odisha (2011)

Cession of territory of India

The Parliament under Article 3 has the power to increase or diminish the area of any state by law. The diminution of area of any state may occur where a part of the state is taken out and added to another state. Parliament has been empowered to cut away the entire area of a state from a new state or to increase the area of any state.

Here the question arises that does the power of Parliament to diminish the area of any state include also the power to see any territory for a foreign state?

The answer to the above question was brought into consideration in the Re Berubari case. The matter started from Indo-Pak agreement entered into in 1958 for resolving certain border disputes that  provided inter alia-

  1. For the transfer of one half of the area of Berubari union by India to Pakistan
  2. For the exchange of old Cooch-Behar enclaves in the return of same

The berubari Union Enclaves comprised an area of nine square miles in the state of West Bengal with a population of about 12,000. When the Central Government was about to implement the agreement a powerful political agitation was initiated against the proposed transfer of territory to Pakistan. Thereupon the President referred the matter to the Supreme Court for its Advisory opinion under Article 143. The questions referred to the Supreme Court were-

  1. Was there a requirement of a legislative action for the implementation of the agreement regarding the Berubari Union?
  2. If so, then will a law enacted by the Parliament under Article 3 of our Constitution be sufficient for the execution of the agreement regarding the Berubari Union or there was the need for an amendment to the Constitution under Article 368 of our Constitution?
  3. And if it was necessary then should it be considered as an  addition or as an alternative?

The Union Government contended that the agreement was all about ascertaining the territorial boundary of India and therefore, it did not involve handing over anyof the Indian territory. But, only the territory which did not belong to India and this could be done in the exercise of executive power of the Union.

The Supreme Court of India rejected this contention by the Union Government and held that the transfer agreement includes cession of a territory that is included in the Schedule and it was outside the scope of Parliament in Legislation. Power of the Parliament under Article 3 does not include ceding of Indian territory to a foreign state.

Moreover it was held that the Parliament had no power under Article 3 (c) to make a law to implement the Berubari Agreement. The agreement could only be implemented by an amendment of the Constitution in accordance with Article 368. Article 3 deals with internal re-adjustment of the territories of the constituent states of India. The area diminished under Article 3(c) continues to be a part of Indian territory. Therefore, Article 3(c) does not provide for cession of any part of Indian territory to a foreign state. However this does not mean that there is no power to cede Indian territory to some other .This power is an attribute to the sovereignty of India. For ceding any territory of India, it was necessary for the Parliament to make an amendment under Article 368 of the Constitution.


This provision of the Constitution is one of the biggest attributes to the sovereignty of India. Parliament, the supreme law making body of the country has the onus to protect this mega creation of our Constitution makers and freedom fighters. Every now and then voices are raised for the creation of separate states or Union territories on various grounds like language, religion, etc. but the thing to be kept in mind is that ‘we the people of India’ live in different sects of a federation and the destructive nature of the states as well as union territories is not a privilege but the essential feature of the flexibility of our Constitutional values. 


(i). In Re. Berubari Union Case AIR 1960 SC 845

(ii). J. N. Pandey, Constitutional Law of India

(iii). History- Telangana State Portal

Author: Poorva G Chaturvedi,
Modi Law College, Kota

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