Difference between States and Union Territories

Senior IAS officer Girish Chandra Murmu, who will be the first Lt Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, arrives to take charge of the new responsibility at Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar on Oct 30, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A parliamentary proposal on August 5, 2019 to bifurcate the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories (UT) saw the total number of states and union territories in the country increase to 36. This figure consist of 29 states and 7 union territories. In terms of governance, structure and function, states and union territories are significantly different from each other.

Article 1 of the Indian constitution defines India as a Union of States and not as a federation of states. The term union of states. India, the largest democracy of the world is a federal country where the ruling powers are distributed among the state and the central governments. Let us find out more about the difference between a state and a union territory.

State Union territory
A state is a constituent division that has a separate government. States have their own elected government that are vested with the powers to frame the laws. An union territory is a small administrative unit that is ruled by the union. The union territories are administered and controlled directly by the Central Government of India.
States enjoy a federal relationship with the central government. The legislative and executive powers are distributed Union territories has unitary relationship with the central government which means all the legislative and executive powers rest with the Union.
Governor is the constitutional head of the state. The president of India is the executive head of the union territory.
The chief minister duly elected by the people administers the state. Union territory is appointed by an administrator who is appointed by the president.
States are much larger in size than the union territories. Union territories are much smaller in size when compared to the states.
States have autonomous powers. Union territories do not have autonomous powers.

Two types of Union Territories in India

In India, there are two types of union territories namely union territory with legislature and union territory without legislature. The two union territories with legislature are Delhi and Puducherry. This type of union territory has an elected legislature and government. The other union territories are directly controlled by the central government. The union territories have no separate representation in the Rajya Sabha except in cases of Delhi and Puducherry where the union territories have their own independent legislature.

After the bifurcation, Jammu and Kashmir resemble the category of Delhi and Puducherry. The special provision granted for Jammu and Kashmir will mean that the administrative powers are distribute between the governor and the chief minister. The education and municipal operations of these union territories come under the purview of the legislative assembly while aspects like security and others are managed by the central government as per the advice of the Lieutenant Governor.


Since they enjoy a partial statehood like status and they have their own legislative assemblies, union territories like Delhi, Puducherry and Jammu and Kashmir do not operate in the same way as the other four union territories in India do.