[Edit: I have found out the answer after reading replies and answers on this thread. Difference is simply that

Union of India is Political Entity, whereas

Territory of India is Geographical Entity

That is why these are differentiated in text books and not to be understood as the same]

While reading article 1 from Official Constitution Of India, I have not found any such sentence as 'Union of India' thought 'territory of India' word is there, but still in most of the books(like Introduction to the Constitution of India by Durga Das Basu) we come across this line which lays emphasis that " 'Union of India' should be distinguished from the expression 'territory of India' " (Chapter 6 Territory Of The Union)

Later I found 'Union of India' in article 300. Which discusses about Suits & Proceedings and says 300. (1) The Government of India may sue or be sued by the name of the Union of India...

I wish to know what is genesis of that emphasising statement (is there any case of Supreme Court? or Constituent Assembly Debate which talks about that). Is there any real utility in practice of that statement in present time?

I know this much that 'Union' word signifies that there is a federation and federation word itself implies sharing of power between Union and State & who is not part of 'Union of States' (like Union Territory) they can not question the union or ask for sharing the power. But again in Article 239 it's mentioned that Parliament can by law share the power with UT. So what's the significance of that phrase in real practice which i pointed out in the first place ? What difference will it make if books do not contain that line - " 'Union of India' should be distinguished from expression 'territory of India' ".

In short my question is somewhat similar to (but not exactly) that why 'Union of India' is only Union of States and UT are not covered in that statement. At the end we are giving similar treatment to few UTs like Delhi & Pondicherry (i.e Sharing power with them) at par with states. Then why to exclude them from that collective word 'Union of India'. Is there any practical significance of doing that?. Can one give hypothetical example?

  • I understand from your question that Delhi is a Union Territory. That seems consistent with the Australian Capital Territory (where Canberra is) and the District of Columbia (for Washington): it doesn't seem fitting for a union of states to be governed from a capital that belongs to one state. Jun 3, 2023 at 22:20
  • 1
    BTW, Genesis probably shouldn't be capitalized in your title. You're using it as a plain English word (meaning origin), not the name of the rock band or the bible book. And the rest of your title isn't In Title Case. Jun 3, 2023 at 22:37

1 Answer 1


These distictions exist principally for historical reasons. In some cases the distinction is almost entirely theoretical, in others it is practical.

So the theory is that India is a union of states. Each state is nominally independent but has chosen to pool part of its sovereignty in a Federation (Bharat or India). In forming a union, this allows the union to take part in diplomacy and international relations, and as a consequence some regions have been taken over by India, and become controlled by India. India may subsequently grant these regions certain freedoms and partial self-determination.

Note the different direction of flow. States are essentially independent, they give some of their independence to the union. Territories are essentially not independent, they get given some freedom by the union.

The territory of India then consists of both the lands that are in a state belonging to the union, and the lands that are in a territory controlled by the union.

In the case of India, most of the land is actually in one state or another. But, contrast this with the British Empire, in which the territories of the empire were much much larger than countries in the United Kingdom.

How much difference this makes to the daily life of a person in Puducherry as compared to (say) Cuddalore is doubtful. It is not as if India rules its territories with an iron fist, nor is the relationship between the Union and a territory an exploitative one (compare this with the British Empire again)

  • The union of state of India into a federation sounds a whole lot like the United States of America, which is a federation of states.
    – RonJohn
    Jun 3, 2023 at 16:20
  • Well, both are federal rather than unitary states.
    – James K
    Jun 3, 2023 at 16:41
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    @RonJohn We indeed were inspired by the US but there are important differences. The Chief architect of our constitution emphasised that India as a republic would be a "Union” of States, as opposed to a "Federation” of States and the States have no right to secede - "The Federation is a Union because it is indestructible. Though the country and the people may be divided into different States for convenience of administration the country is one integral whole, its people a single people living under a single imperium derived from a single source.” - pranabmukherjee.nic.in/sp040914.html
    – sfxedit
    Jun 3, 2023 at 23:15
  • @sfxedit I’m no expert on US politics, but my understanding is that according to the legal opinion that prevailed in the US civil war, US states also do not have the right to secede. Jun 5, 2023 at 11:38
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    By contrast the EU is a "union" but states do have the right to leave (ie Brexit)
    – James K
    Jun 5, 2023 at 18:04

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