LEGAL VALIDITY OF BIFURCATION OF STATES WITH REFERENCE TO TAMIL NADU

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ABSTRACT

Bifurcation is a process which involves division of pre-existing states. Bifurcation of states has created several doubts and queries regarding its validity. The main reason behind keen discussions and debates regarding this is the news about the proposal for bifurcation of Tamil Nadu to form Kongu Nadu. India is a country which has bifurcated its states several times for many social, economic and even political reasons since 1960 after the initial division of states in India. Even in 2014 Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated to form Telengana which had its own advantages and disadvantages. In most of the circumstances, states were bifurcated to reduce agitation and violence. The controversy about the bifurcation of Tamil Nadu is not something new, it has been in prevalence since 2001 after the Jammu and Kashmir issue. But the main problem here is, do Tamil Nadu really need a bifurcation? And even if it gets bifurcated, would it be legally valid?  How is a state bifurcated?  What is the process of bifurcation? Bifurcation of states is legally accepted which has its provisions in Constitution of India. Article 3 of the Indian Constitution has provisions regarding bifurcation of states which discusses about the procedure to be followed during bifurcation too. This article would discuss the provisions in the Constitution, history of the division of states in India and also about the controversial issue of bifurcation of Tamil Nadu.

INTRODUCTION

The news that has been spread nationwide regarding the bifurcation of Tamil Nadu has created a sense of perplexity among the citizens. In spite of clarifications made during the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, there are still many questions that remain unanswered. One such critical question is its legal validity. Before answering these questions, it is just as important to know the need for formation of new states and also the disadvantages of bifurcation of states. Primarily separation of existing states with larger size helps in good governance. By forming new states a new state government with new officials shall be introduced which would also provide employment opportunities. Moreover, the governance and the laws implemented on the state level would be more effective when the state is smaller in size with reduced population. Every region, even the tribal regions in the state can be given adequate attention, and the natural resources in the state can be used properly for the welfare of the state and to increase economic conditions of the people. However, larger number of states would be a burden to the central government as a greater number of states would result in increased expenses and also would need more monetary funds. In many states all the districts are interdependent on resources and also on other material goods, dividing states into two would affect the interdependency.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

However, who is responsible or who is the deciding authority for the formation of new states?   Constitution of India, the supreme law of India has itself provided answers for these questions through its provisions. Article 3 of the Indian Constitution deals with bifurcation which states that Parliament may by law—

(a) Form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State;

(b) Increase the area of any State;

(c) Diminish the area of any State;

(d) Alter the boundaries of any State;

(e) Alter the name of any State:

 Provided that no Bill for the purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President and unless, where the proposal contained in the Bill affects the area, boundaries or name of any of the States, the Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views thereon within such period as may be specified in the reference or within such further period as the President may allow and the period so specified or allowed has expired. [1]Thus, parliament has the power to form a state by separating an already existing state which proves that the bifurcation of Tamil Nadu or any other state is legally recognised. As it is mentioned in article 3 of the Indian Constitution it is mandatory that the recommendation regarding the bill for formation of new states has to be made by the President which has to be sent to state assembly. The President shall allot a specified period of time to the state assembly to express its views. However, the parliament is not obligated to take into the state assembly’s opinions.

DIVISION OF STATES IN INDIA – HISTORY

Before Independence, India had 565 princely states which were disjointed and believed in independent governance. Later these 565 princely states were merged together to form 27 states based on political and historical lines and not on linguistic basis.  However, this was just a temporary arrangement. Later, in 1948, Dhar Commission headed by Justice S. K. Dhar was formed to look into the desirability of linguistic states. This commission rejected the idea of reorganisation of states on the basis of linguistic features and suggested reorganization based on geographical and administrative considerations. After the Dhar Commission’s rejection, in the same year in December 1948 JVP committee was formed. This committee was headed by Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabh Bhai Patel and Pattabhi Sitaramayya to examine the issue. However, this committee also dismissed the proposal of reorganization of states based on linguistic lines. In 1953, Andhra Pradesh was first separated from Madras on a linguistic basis after a 56-day hunger strike and death of Potti Sriramalu.[2] This formation triggered the people all over the country which subsequently resulted in increased demands for the division of states on linguistic basis. So, in 1953 the State Reorganization Commission was formed and Jawaharlal Nehru appointed Justice Fazl Ali, K. M. Panikkar and H Kunzru as its members to reorganize the states. This commission suggested 16 states and 3 centrally administered areas, which however, was rejected by the government. In 1956 the country was divided into 14 states and 6 union territories under the State Reorganization Act of 1956.

Later in 1960 Bombay was bifurcated to form Gujarat and Maharashtra to reduce violence. In 1960, Nagaland was created. In 1966, Shah Commission was formed and based on the commission’s recommendations the Punjab Reorganization Act was passed by the parliament and Punjabi speaking areas came under Haryana and the other hilly regions were combined with Himachal Pradesh. In 1969 and 1971, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh were introduced along with the conversion of Tripura and Manipur from union territories to states. In 1975 Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa attained the status of states and in 2000 Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal were introduced. Finally in 2014, Telangana was bifurcated and it became the 29th state of India. As mentioned, the original number of states in India were 14 states and 6 union territories but because of several economic, political and social reasons these states were further bifurcation to form new states. Currently, there are 29 states and 7 union territories in India.

TAMIL NADU BIFURCATION CONTREVERSY

Tamil Nadu has been witnessing a controversial debate on whether the Bharatiya Janata Party – BJP’s current political move is to bifurcate Tamil Nadu. All of these controversies started when the party released details about the union ministers where it referred to the party’s outgoing state chief L.Murugan as hailing from Kongu Nadu.[3] However, this controversy and confusion about bifurcation is not something that got viral in a single moment. All these rumours have been spreading since January which has created confusions among the people of Tamil Nadu. Is there even a need for bifurcation of Tamil Nadu? In the beginning, when states were divided, the basic concern or the basic criteria on which states were divided was language. In the same way, the Tamil speaking region was divided and considered as Tamil Nadu. The language Tamil has been spoken in different slangs throughout the state. There is no fixed slang or a fixed way to speak Tamil as for other languages. Districts in the western region of Tamil Nadu which includes Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Karur, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri have a common slang and have also been named as Kongu Nadu. However, this division is just for reference and it cannot be considered as a criterion for bifurcation.

 Moreover, the name Kongu Nadu in itself is derived from the caste, Kongu Vellalar. In this era, where several protests have been taking place for abolition of caste, the introduction of this Kongu Nadu would create several controversial issues which even has the chances of outbreak of protests and even violence. As of now Tamil Nadu remains as a welfare state but if it is bifurcated then either Tamil Nadu or Kongu Nadu would suffer greater economic and political losses as in the case of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh where Andhra Pradesh suffered losses and Telangana however managed to remain as a welfare state.  Bifurcating Tamil Nadu would also lead to disputes on sharing resources such as river disputes and even border disputes which may end up in violence. Though this controversy attracts everyone, another demand that has been raised by the Vada Tamil Nadu Makkal Munnani[4] for the creation of a new state of North Tamil Nadu. This demand for North Tamil Nadu includes districts in the northern region including Chennai, delta regions and also the Stanley Reservoir and Bavanisagar Reservoir. However, this demand for the division of the state also has caste influences. As the western region or Kongu Nadu is influenced by Kongu Vellalars this North Tamil Nadu is highly influenced by the Vanniyar community. This would result in the Trifurcation of Tamil Nadu into North Tamil Nadu, Kongu Nadu and South Tamil Nadu, where even the south Tamil Nadu would be caste influenced because of the dominance of Mukkalathor, a caste-based community.[5] This would just result in caste-based states filled with problems and it would start all over again as it was in the early 90’s. Either it would again take a century for the states to make progress in eliminating caste discrimination or it would end up in protests, riots and wars within the states.

This division based on caste would be helpful to politicians and political parties as it would be easier for them to control a state by just controlling a particular caste and its leader. As we saw earlier if we look into the history of  the division of states though the main criteria for reorganisation of states were linguistic and cultural differences, further bifurcation was mostly because of agitation and conflicts within the state and a few for economic developmental reasons. Bifurcation states because of violence and agitation leads to peace. But here in the case of Tamil Nadu the bifurcation in itself would cause violence and agitation among the people which makes it less desirable to bifurcate it. Considering all these facts many organisations and even the people of Tamil Nadu are against this bifurcation or trifurcation ideas.  However, on August 3 the union government had made it clear to the parliament that it had no idea of bifurcating Tamil Nadu,[6] which at last settled all the confusions and rumours.

IS THERE A NEED FOR BIFURCATION OF TAMIL NADU?

This is a question that needs to be analysed for future clarifications. First of all, the division or the present organisation of states in India is not a permanent one and would never be permanent. As time flies, changes also become inevitable. In the future, need for smaller states can also get increased or even decreased. But, ultimately, any change that needs to be taken for peace and welfare of the country has to be accepted. Predicting the future changes, the law makers have added provisions to the parliament to make it easy too. Bifurcation of Tamil Nadu would actually create smaller states with better governance, better administration and increased participation and involvement of the general public in government activities. Individual state governments would also be able to concentrate on every region of its states and people.

 However, in the current situation, Tamil Nadu still remains united, which has also been proved by the people during rough times such as pandemics and even protests. So bifurcating or trifurcating Tamil Nadu would be difficult as it may lead to chaos and protests as still people of Tamil Nadu find bifurcating the state as a treat to their culture and language. People here find culture and language as their binding factor and their respect towards it is unbelievable. Touching that respect or togetherness would create unnecessary problems. Even if bifurcating Tamil Nadu becomes irresistible, it has to be done in a diplomatic way without creating any chaos. This Kongu Nadu plan would not survive the people’s togetherness as the youngsters today are pretty clear as not to allow caste or caste-based differences to enter the society. This caste-based division of states would never survive today’s youngster; rather, it would trigger potential riots and protests. As of now, bifurcating Tamil Nadu would be an unnecessary move leading to violence as there is no immediate need for bifurcating the state.

CONCLUSION

India is a land of diversity and it is really hard to divide states on a particular criterion. The current 29 states and 9 union territories that have been divided based on language is not a permanent one. Bifurcation of states has its own advantages and disadvantages. In the future there are chances for the formation of several smaller states bifurcated from pre-existing states too. Smaller the states, better the governance and public participation in state administration. It would be easier for the state governments to concentrate on every region including the backward communities in the state which would pave the way for their welfare. By forming smaller states backward communities can also be given a chance to uplift their lives.  But however, it is difficult to bifurcate states as it would result in chaos and agitation with the separation of land and water sources. As the number of the states increases it would be difficult for the Union Government to get all the states in control. Different state laws would create confusion to the Government. Expenses on funds for states would also increase as there would be requirement for separate government infrastructures, increased number of schools, hospitals and other public services for every state. And moreover bifurcation of states for economic, administrative, and social reasons can be justified but bifurcating states for caste dominance, to gain political power and other such reasons would result in unnecessary chaos. It would affect the unity and togetherness among the general public. So, bifurcation of a state has to be done for a valid reason at an optimal time and in such a way that it avoids unnecessary chaos and the main aim behind bifurcation should be the welfare of people and the restoration of peace.


[1] Article 3 of Indian Constitution ,available at : https://www.constitutionofindia.net/constitution_of_india/the_union_and_its_territory/articles/Article%203

[2] https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/explainer-reorganization-states-india-and-why-it-happened-52273

[3] In Tamil Nadu, murmurs of bifurcation provoke a backlash. Hindustan Times. July 19,2021 

[4] People organisation headed by a leader for the welfare and for protection of culture and language in North Tamil Nadu

[5] https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2020/jan/05/murmurs-on-tamil-nadus-bifurcation-resurface-2085250.html

[6] No plan for bifurcating of any state including Tamil Nadu: Home Ministry. The Hindu. August 03,2021

Author: L. Sahaya Sweetlin, Vellore Institute of Technology, Chennai

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India.

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