Parliament has power to convert state into union territory, change boundaries: Supreme Court

New Delhi: Asserting that Parliament has the power to convert an existing state into a Union Territory, the Supreme Court has observed that such legislation cannot be treated as an amendment to the Constitution. A division bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said, “Provision may be made, by the same law, as to the representation in Parliament and in the Legislative Assembly of a Union territory created by such law.” Delimitation of assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir by deprivation of any qualification.

On August 5, 2019, the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 was abolished and on October 31, 2019, the Parliament enacted the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, which bifurcates Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir. Provides for reorganization by bifurcating Kashmir and Ladakh.

Explaining the constitutional scheme, the Bench said, “Article 3 provides that Parliament may by law constitute new States and alter the areas, boundaries or names of existing States. Explanation I provides that the provisions of Article 3 In clauses (a) to (e), a State includes a Union territory.

“Thus, Explanation I makes it amply clear that the power of Parliament, under clause (a) of article 3, includes the power to make a law to create a new State or to alter the boundary of a State The new UT Explanation II clarifies that the power conferred by clause (a) on Parliament to make a law to form a new State shall include the transfer of parts of any State or Union territory to any other State or Union territory Including the power to form a union territory by combining them.