State Reorganization Act 1956 – [Facts Notes GK]

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The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 restructured Indian state and territory boundaries, systematizing them based on language. The newly designed Indian Constitution, which went into effect on January 26, 1950, classified states into four categories. This article provides a basic overview of the State Reorganisation Act as defined by the Indian Constitution.

State Reorganization Act 1956 GK + Notes: Articles 2 to 4 of the Constitution deal with the formation and reorganization of Indian states. By enacting laws, the power to form or reorganize new states (change of size/change of boundaries/name change/division of a state into two states/merging of two states) is vested in the Constitution by Parliament (Article 3).

History of Reorganization of States

The Linguistic Provinces Commission (aka Dhar Commission) was formed in 1948 under the leadership of SK Dhar to determine the policy for the reorganization of the states of India. In December 1948, the JVP Committee was formed for the same purpose under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Patravi Sitaramaiah.

In 1952, Potti Sriramulu died after a 56-day hunger strike demanding the creation of a separate state for Telugu-speaking Indians. As a result, Telangana was formed on 2 June 2014. Andhra Pradesh was formed on 1 November 1956 (in defiance of the Dhar Commission’s and JVP Committee’s report prohibiting the formation of states on the basis of language), making it the first state in India to be formed on the basis of language.

  • In 1956, the Indian Parliament passed the State Reorganization Act, which divided India into 14 states and 6 Union Territories on the basis of language.
  • In 1960, the state of Bombay was divided into two states, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • Through the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1960, the Portuguese-acquired Dadra and Nagar Haveli were given the status of Union Territories after the incorporation of India.
  • In 1962, the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution gave Goa, Daman and Diu the status of Union Territories, and made free from Portuguese rule.
  • In 1962, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution gave Nagaland the status of a separate state.
  • In 1966, the Punjab Reconstruction Act was passed on the basis of the report of the Shah Commission. Through this Act, Punjab was divided into two states, Punjab and Haryana, and a new Union Territory of Chandigarh was formed at the same time.
  • The new state of Meghalaya [22nd Amendment to the Constitution] was formed in 1969 with some areas of Assam.
  • In 1971, the Union Territory of Himachal Pradesh became a separate state.
  • Sikkim was recognized as a state of India in 1975 by the 36th Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Mizoram in 1986, Arunachal Pradesh in 1987, Goa in 1987, these three Union Territories became three separate states.
  • In 2000, three new Indian states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and the Northern Territory were formed.
  • At present in India, there are 28 States and 9 Union Territories.

Statutory provisions relating to size/boundaries/name change and formation of new states:

Proposals to change the size, boundaries and names of states and to enact laws on the formation of new states may be raised in either House of Parliament with the approval of the President.

When a proposal for a law to change the names and boundaries of one or more states is sent to Parliament for approval by the President, the President sends a directive to the Legislature to give them an opportunity to express their views on the proposal. If the concerned assembly wants to give their opinion, it can give their opinion within that period. The President may extend the time limit for expressing his views at the request of the concerned Legislative Assembly or voluntarily.

If one or more of the concerned legislatures do not express their views within the pre-determined period, then the proposal of the relevant law is deemed to have the consent of the concerned legislature. If the concerned Legislative Assembly sends their views within the stipulated time, the Parliament may accept or reject those views in whole or in part. Once the law is passed, when a proposal to amend the law in the future is raised in Parliament, it is not necessary to give the concerned legislature the opportunity to make that proposal or give their opinion.

Like any other general law, the law on change of name/boundary/size of a state is passed by a simple majority in both the Houses of Parliament.

In the case of the State Name / Boundary / Size Change Act, it is necessary to give the opportunity to the concerned Legislative Assembly to express their views.

Important Facts on Restructuring of the States of India

Here are some important facts about the formation/restructuring of the states of India:

1. India is a union of states, not the united states. Article 1 of the Indian Constitution describes India. The framers of the Constitution of the States did not consciously use the term United States in this case. This is because in the case of the United States, they come together to form the United States as a result of a specific agreement, and the states can break up the United States and declare independence if they wish.

2. The term ‘Union of States‘ used in Article 1 of the Indian Constitution to refer to the aggregate of Indian States does not include the Union Territories of India. The term “Indian Territory” refers to the sum of the Indian States and Union Territories.

3. Pursuant to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, no bill relating to the change of size, boundaries and name of Jammu and Kashmir can be raised in Parliament without the consent of the State Legislature. The provisions relating to the change of names/boundaries/size of the States of India are applicable to all the States and Union Territories except Jammu and Kashmir. However, in 2019, article 370 is abolished by the government of India. A detailed fact about the abolition of 370 and 35a is discussed here.

State Reorganization Act 1956 General Knowledge Notes for UPSC, IAS, Railway, Banking, Police, Public Service Commission, WBCS and other competitive government job examinations.

Important GK Questions Answer from State Reorganization Act 1956.

Suggested ReadingsSuggested Readings
State Reorganisation CommissionLanguage Commission (1955) of India
National Development Council Planning Commission 
Finance Commission of IndiaComptroller and Auditor General of India