Article 3 and evolution of States

India is a single entity with many independent units. It can be better understood as a perpetual union with divisible states. Article 3 of Indian Constitution provides inter alia for formation of new states by altering the boundaries of existing states, suitably. The Constitution that came into force w.e.f. January 26, 1950, made India a sovereign democratic republic. The new republic was also declared to be the Union of States.

Why no bigger role for States than Centre in creation of new States?

It is said that during the Constituent Assembly discussions, to an observation by Prof KT Shah that the legislation constituting a new State from any region of a State should originate from the legislature of the State concerned, K Santhanam stated as under: “I wonder whether Professor Shah fully realises the implications of his amendment. If his amendment is adopted, it would mean that no minority in any State can ask for separation of territory… unless it can get a majority in that State legislature.

On many occasions, the constitutional provision under Article 3 has been used to satisfy the provincial aspirations of people. Some political parties have reciprocated by starting secessionist activities leading to formation of Haryana, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Post-independence, there were movements for creation of new, linguistic-based states. The agitation to create a Telugu-speaking state out of the northern portion of Madras State gathered pace, just after a few years of independence, resulting in the formation of Andhra state in 1953 by extracting the erstwhile 16 northern Telugu-speaking districts of Madras State.

In actuality, the demand of states on linguistic basis was developed even before independence. During that period, Indian administrative regions were identified as different provinces. Odisha (formerly Orissa) was the first Indian state formed on linguistic basis and became Orissa Province in the year 1936. In Odisha, linguistic movement started as early as in the year 1895 itself and strengthened years later with the only demand of a separate province from Bihar & Orissa Province.

After India’s independence, based on the provisions made under Article 3 of Indian constitution, many small changes were made to the state boundaries during the period 1950-1956. For example: the small state of Bilaspur was merged with Himachal Pradesh on July 1, 1954; and Chandernagore, a former enclave of French India, was incorporated into West Bengal in 1955. All this was made under the provisions of Article 3.

In case of the formation of Nagaland state also, Article 3 was efficiently used. After the independence of India, in 1947, the area remained a part of the province of Assam. Post independence, nationalist activities arose amongst a section of the Nagas. Naga National Council led by Phizo demanded a political union of their ancestral and native groups. That was rather a violent movement that India had ever seen for separate statehood. In 1955, the union government sent the Indian Army to reinstate law and order in that region.

In 1957, with the intervention of the newly established central government, Naga Hills Tuensang Area (NHTA) was established as a Union Territory directly administered by the Central government with a great degree of self-rule. Even this was not acceptable to the tribes of the region. In July 1960, following the increasing agitations and violence across the state, and discussions between the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Naga People Convention (NPC),an amicable solution was arrived at whereby the Government of India recognized the formation of Nagaland as a full-fledged state within the Union of India.

In a nutshell, all the 16 new states that have come into force since 1953 i.e., beginning with the formation of Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956, to the most recently formed state of Jharkhand on November 15, 2000, all were formed in the spirit of Article 3.

However, federalism, which is the nature of Indian republic, has been repeatedly questioned on many instances. Article 3 of the Constitution imposes a question on the entire concept of federalism. It empowers president of India – in actuality through the Central government – to approve a bill for the formation of a new state, irrespective of the views of the Assembly concerned.


Telangana statehood in the spirit of Article 3

The Constitution of Republic of India that came into force w.e.f. January 26, 1950 is the ultimate document that delineates defining fundamental political principles, establishes the structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions, and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens. It is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world. Indian Constitution comprises 448 articles in 25 parts, 12 schedules, 5 appendices and 98 amendments.

Of the 448 articles in the Constitution of Republic of India, Article 3 deals with the formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States. According to Article 3:

Parliament may by law

  • Form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State;
  • Increase the area of any State;
  • Diminish the area of any State;
  • Alter the boundaries of any State;
  • Alter the name of any State;

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, broadly regarded as the father of the Indian Constitution had speculated years before that whenever there’s a demand for separate statehood by the oppressed community, there will be equal opposition from the subjugated community.

In the context of Telangana issue, Article 3 was the key tag that made rounds in the news channels. While few channels have read between the lines of Article3, few other channels have misinterpreted the content.

One of the recent media studies revealed the fact that the audience look for the content they intend to have, which is close to their own opinions. Based on this fact, the media channels have been reverse engineering to infotain audiences. The news channels turned to be infotainment channels.

If we clearly examine the recent political scenario of Andhra Pradesh, the legislatures have already been bifurcated on the basis of regionalism, even before the actual bifurcation of the state. The vested political interests have been ruling the state. Scrutiny of the present-day political scenario reveals the fact that Article 3 has been misinterpreted to befool the people of either region.

At this crucial juncture of formation of a new state, there is a need to understand the spirit of the constitution in general, and article 3 in particular. One set of people have been proclaiming that Telangana Bill tabled in the state assembly has been rejected, whereas in actuality the state assembly has no right to reject any bill that has been sent by the President of India with reference to Article 3. It was not the bill that was rejected by the state assembly rather it was the resolution put forward by the Chief Minister that was considered and passed by the state assembly using the Positive Voice Vote.

Just after the concluding episode of the Telangana bill, the Finance and Planning Minister for the state of Andhra Pradesh, Anam Ramnarayana Reddy has repeatedly told the media that the resolution passed by the Chief Minister was ‘unanimously’ accepted, which is truly contradicting. If there had been a unanimous support, what was the need to have a positive voice vote from the speaker of the state assembly to pass the resolution?

Just for the sake of personal benefits, the politicians play mind games. They may be able to bluff the people for sometime and not continuously. Abraham Lincoln’s famous dictum “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time” better suits this context.

An Unfavoured Fortune

The results of my SSC final examinations were declared. Like everyone, I too was tensed. Great achievent of my life till then…….. I stood fourteenth in the state of Andhra Pradesh. My joy was limitless. Those were the days – in every family the male child was expected to be an engineer and a female child was expected to be a doctor, by profession. Likewise like every other parents, my parents too were expecting me to be an engineer. To the best of my abilities, I tried to grab a seat in IIT. But I missed the chance by whisker due to lack of coaching and proper guidance. I even missed a seat in other state engineering colleges too ( I was offered Civil Engineering, but I always wanted to be a Chemical Engineer). I was feeling guilty for unknown reasons. Also, my family was dragged onto ditch, financially. I had no other option than seeking employment at the very early stages of mylife. I started working since the time I turned just eighteen. But my zest for education never cooled and I kept on studying and excelled in every part of my academic education. I am at the verge of completing my regular obligatory enagement. I am now looking forward for a better second career stint, hopefully.