Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday proposed the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – of Ladakh and of Jammu and Kashmir. He also pushed for the revocation of Article 370 that confers special powers and on J&K. The proposal was met with a lot of protest from Kashmiri leaders, most of who opined that the decision will have disastrous consequences.
For the novice who is unclear about how this change alters the power structure, here’s the difference between a state and Union Territory:
• A state has its own elected government but a Union Territory is an administrative unit controlled and regulated by the Union Government.
• The constitution head of the state is the governor but the President acts as the executive head for the UT. Chief Ministers administer the states but an Administrator, appointed by the President administers the Union Territory.
• A state also has its own Legislative Assembly and can form its own laws. However, there is a provision that allows the setting up of a Legislative Assembly in a Union Territory as is the case with Delhi and Puducherry. The rest of the Union Territories — Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep – are without legislatures. Kashmir will be a UT with legislature like Delhi, while Ladakh will be a UT without legislature.
• States also have a federal model of relationship with the Union Government, unlike the Union Territories. The powers in a state are distributed between the state and the union, while in a Union Territory, all powers are vested in the hands of the Union.
• States are also usually significantly larger than Union Territories when it comes to the area. But, this does not apply to Kashmir and Ladakh which are considerably bigger than some of the smaller states in India.