Polity & Governance Prelims cum Mains

LS passes Bill to merge two UTs

In News

  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019.
  • The bill, that seeks to merge the two union territories into one, now awaits passage in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The country currently has nine Union Territories after the creation of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • However, with the merger of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the number of UTs will come down to eight.

About: Daman and Diu

  • Daman and Diu is a union territory in western India. With an area of 112 square kms, it is the smallest federal division of India on the mainland.
  • The territory comprises two distinct regions—Daman and Diu—that are geographically separated by the Gulf of Khambhat. The state of Gujarat and the Arabian Sea border the territory.
  • Each enclave constitutes one of the union territory’s two districts. Both are approximately 650 kilometres away from each other by road.

History of Daman and Diu:

  • For over 450 years since the 1500s, the coastal enclaves of Daman and Diu on the Arabian Sea coast were part of Portuguese India, along with Goa and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
  • Goa, Daman and Diu were incorporated into the Republic of India on 19 December 1961, by military conquest.
  • However, Portugal did not recognise the Indian annexation of these territories until the Carnation Revolution of 1974.
  • The territory of Goa, Daman and Diu was administered as a single union territory until 1987, when Goa was granted statehood, leaving Daman and Diu as a separate union territory.

About: Dadra and Nagar Haveli

  • Dadra and Nagar Haveli is composed of two separate geographical entities: Nagar Haveli, wedged between Maharashtra and Gujarat, and, 1 km to the northwest, the smaller enclave of Dadra, which is surrounded by Gujarat.

Portuguese Era:

  • The Portuguese were granted the area of Nagar Haveli on 10 June 1783 on the basis of Friendship Treaty executed on 17 December 1779 as compensation towards damage to the Portuguese frigate Santana by Maratha Navy in 1772.
  • Then, in 1785 the Portuguese purchased Dadra, annexing it to Portuguese India
  • In 1818, the Maratha Empire was defeated by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, and the Portuguese ultimately became the effective rulers of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Integration into India:

  • The Portuguese rule lasted until 1954, when Dadra and Nagar Haveli were captured by supporters of the Indian Union.
  • Although it enjoyed de facto independence, Dadra and Nagar Haveli were still recognised internationally (e.g. by the International Court of Justice) as Portuguese possessions.
  • In 1961, Dadra and Nagar Haveli was formally merged with the Republic of India. The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of India was passed to incorporate Dadra and Nagar Haveli as a union territory, effective 11 August 1961.
  • On 31 December 1974 a treaty was signed between India and Portugal on recognition of India’s sovereignty over Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019

Amendment of the Constitution:

  • The First Schedule to the Constitution specifies the territories that come under various states and UTs.  The Bill amends the First Schedule to merge the territories of the two UTs.
  • The merged territory will form the UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. 
  • Article 240(1) of the Constitution allows the President to make regulations for certain UTs, including the UTs of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. The Bill amends the Article to replace these two UTs with the merged UT.   

Representation in Lok Sabha:

  • The First Schedule to the Representation of the People Act, 1950 provides one seat in Lok Sabha to each of the two UTs. 
  • The Bill seeks to amend the Schedule to allocate two Lok Sabha seats to the merged UT. 

Services under the UTs:

  • Every person employed in connection with the affairs of the existing UTs will provisionally serve the merged UT.  The central government will determine whether every such person will finally be allotted for service in the merged UT.
  • The merged UT will take steps to integrate employees into services under its control. The central government may give orders and instructions to the merged UT in this regard.  
  • The central government may establish Advisory Committees to assist in ensuring fair treatment of all persons affected by these provisions and consideration of any representations made by them.
  • These provisions will not apply to members of All India Services (such as Indian Administrative Services, Indian Police Services, and Indian Forest Services), and persons on delegation from any state.

Jurisdiction of High Court:

  • The Bill provides that the jurisdiction of the High Court of Bombay will continue to extend to the merged UT.   

Impact of the merger:

  • It will help to strengthen the administrative services, prevent duplication of work, reduce wasteful expenditure and the consequent financial burden on the government.
  • The number of Lok Sabha seats will remain unaltered and the reservation provided to people in the two union territories will continue.
  • Considering the small population and limited geographical area of both the Union Territories it will lead to the streamlining of services based on the principle of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance.

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