When the Constitution was adopted, the constituent political units in the country consisted of different types of States (albeit with different structures, powers, and relationships with the Union Government) and not of States and Union territories, as we now understand them. At that time, India consisted of Part A, Part B, and Part C States as detailed in the First Schedule to the Constitution.

Part A States consisted of former Governors’ Provinces (prior to Independence) and some princely states. The former were governed by elected legislative bodies as well as a Governor. Part B States consisted largely of the former princely states and were governed by elected legislative bodies and the Rajpramukh.

Part C States were formerly the Chief Commissioners’ Provinces (and some princely states) which were governed by a Chief Commissioner appointed by the President. Additionally, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands alone found a place in Part D of the First Schedule. A Lieutenant Governor appointed by the Union Government oversaw the administration of this territory.

Evidently, the constitutional classification of the constituent units in the country at the time of Independence mirrored their classification by the colonial power. This was not intended to be a permanent feature.

Accordingly, Article 3 of the Constitution was intended to subserve an arrangement in place until a reclassification which was suited to the needs of the local populace and which was based on a careful evaluation of administrative, cultural, linguistic, financial, and other relevant considerations rather than on the expediency of the colonial government.

The Constituent Assembly was also cognizant that certain princely states were yet to be integrated into the country and that some segments of society demanded the organisation of states on the basis of language. Article 3 therefore empowered Parliament to reorganise the constituent units of the newly-formed country.

Conscious of the imperial basis for the organisation of states and in view of the growing demand for the organisation of states on a linguistic basis, the Union Government appointed the States Reorganisation Commission to gauge public opinion and assess the manner in which constituent political units ought to be rationalised. The Commission was formed to:

“…investigate the conditions of the problem, the historical background, the existing situation and the bearing of all important and relevant factors thereon. They will be free to consider any proposal relating to such reorganisation.

The Government expect that the Commission would, in the first instance, not go into the details, but make recommendations in regard to the broad principles which should govern the solution of this problem and, if they, so choose, the broad lines on which particular States should be reorganised, and submit interim reports for the consideration of Government.”

The Commission submitted its report after undertaking extensive consultations with members of the public from all States. It found that the demarcation of the States at the time was based almost entirely on colonial interests:

“To the extent, therefore, there was a conscious or deliberate design behind the demarcation of the territories of administrative units, it was grounded in imperial interests or the exigencies of a foreign government and not in the actual needs, wishes or affinities of the people.”

Based on its analysis of the demarcation of States, the Commission found that the distinction between the States which existed at that time could not be maintained. The Commission recommended that:

a. A balanced approach which accounted for all relevant factors (and not solely language or culture) be adopted to reorganise the States;

b. Part A States and Part B States be of an equal status;

c. Part C States be merged with the adjoining States or retained as independent units with temporary control by the Union Government; and

d. Overall, the constituent units of the country ought to consist of ‘States’ and ‘Territories’ with the latter being centrally administered.

The Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act 1956 amended the First Schedule and modified the categorisation of the constituent units in the country, largely in accordance with the recommendations made by the Commission. It removed the distinction between the States. Currently, the administrative or federal units consist solely of States and Union Territories.

The States Reorganisation Act 1956 was enacted in pursuance of this amendment to the Constitution. It provided for the territorial changes and the formation of new States as well as for other matters connected with or incidental to these changes.