Constitution (Fifty-Fifth Amendment) Act, 1987

Article 1 of the Indian Constitution defines ‘India, that is Bharat’ as a ‘Union of States’. Article 3 gives authority to the Parliament to establish new states by reorganising an existing larger state, change it’s name or status from being a Union Territory to a State. Generally, prior recommendation of the President is needed to introduce a bill for this purpose in the Parliament. The President then needs to refer it to the legislature of the state for their views but is not bound by them. In case of a union territory no reference to its legislative body is required and the Parliament can take any action it finds suitable.

From colonial India till the year 1972, the present state of Arunachal Pradesh was named North-East Frontier Agency. In 1972, it was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh and declared a Union Territory. On February 20, 1987, Arunachal Pradesh was given the status of statehood. Article 371-H introduced through the 55th Amendment deals with special provisions for the newly formed state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The objects and reasons appended to the 55th amendment bill were that certain provisions were needed to be introduced in the Constitution considering the sensitive location of the state. Thus, the 55th Constitutional Amendment Bill was proposed in the Parliament on 1st December 1986 and passed on 23rd December 1986. It got published in the Official Gazette on February 11,1987 and came into force on 20th February 1987.

The (a) of the Article brought in through the Amendment bestows “special responsibility” upon the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh to maintain law and order in the State and “discharge of his functions in relation thereto”. The Governor would consult with the Council of Ministers and decide the necessary action to be taken based upon his own self judgment.

The Article further provides that if question arises regarding whether the Governor had the authority of deciding a particular matter, the Governor’s “discretion shall be final,” and will not be held of whether or not he was in the position of exercising “his individual judgment”.

If the Governor reports to the President of India or the President finds by himself that the Governor need not hold the responsibility entrusted to him under Article 371-H anymore, the President may issue an order directing that the Governor ceases to hold the responsibility from the date specified in the order.

The Legislative Assembly of the state was supposed to have forty members. But the existing thirty-members Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh was proposed to be the provisional Assembly for the new state until fresh elections are not held on the expiry of the existing five-year term of the existing Assembly. Thus, Article 371-H(b) fixed the strength of the members of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly to not less than thirty members.

This is how the 24th state of the Indian Union came into existence.


Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth (Fifth Edition)

Indian Constitutional Law – M. P. Jain (Sixth Edition)

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