The Constitutional (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956

A major reform of the boundary lines of Indian states and territories was the State Reorganization Act of 1956, organizing them on the linguistic lines. While more amendments have been made to the state borders of India since 1956, the 1956 State Reorganization Act appears to remain the greatest reform in state borders following India's independence in 1947. This Act was enacted in accordance with the Constitution Act (Seventh Amendment) 1956, that reorganized the constitutional structure for the established states in India and the provisions of Part I of the Constitution of India, and the criteria for the approval of the State Reorganization Act.

Movement for linguistic states

Even before India gained independence from British rule, the demand for linguistic organization of States was developed. In 1895, in what is now Odisha, a first linguistic revolution began. In the later years the Movement became more active by insisting that a new Province of Orissa be established by bifurcating the current States of Bihar and Orissa. The Movement eventually served it's purpose in 1936 with the support of Madhusudan Das, the Father of the Odia Nationalism.

The post-independence era saw the emergence of nationalist movements to establish new linguistic states. In the years after independence, the campaign to build a Telugu-speaking State from northern state of Madras was created and the 16 northern districts of Telugu speaking formed the independent state of Andhra in 1953.

Over the period from 1950-1956, other minor adjustments were intended to apply to the state borders: on 1 July 1954, the small Bilaspur State was merged with Himachal Pradesh; and in 1955, Chandernagore, the former French India enclave, was included in West Bengal. However, in 1953, Andhra was founded from the Telugu speaking northern parts of the state of Madras after independence, as the first linguistic state to be created.

States Reorganisation Commission

The State Commission of Reorganization was replaced in June 1948 by the Committee of the Linguistic Provinces (i.e. the Dhar Commission). Language as a separating parameter has been refused. Later on, in December 1953, in the process of reorganizing the Indian States, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru named the State Reorganization Commission. The retired Chief Justice, Fazal Ali, was the head of the new commission; with its two other members H.N. Kunzru and Mr Panikkar. Mr. Govind Ballabh Pant, who acted as Home Minister in December 1954, oversaw the activities of the Committee.

On 30 September 1955, the State Reorganization Commission presented a report on the reorganization of the states of India which then was debated by the Indian Parliament of India. Bills were eventually enacted for institutional reforms and the reorganization of states to be governed.

Important Facts

In order to incorporate reforms enacted during this reorganization plan, the regions and boundaries belonging to the States of the first schedule and the territories of the Union have been amended entirely. The 

Articles 1, 3, 49, 81, 82, 132, 153, 158, 168, 170, 171, 216, 217, 220, 222, 224, 230, 231 and 232 have been revised by the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act 

Articles 258A, 290A, 298, 350A, 350B, 371, 372A and 378A and changes to Part 8, Schedule 1, 2, 4 and 7 were included in this article. 

The Fourth Schedule for the distribution of seats in the Council of States was amended in full.

In the light of new Article 258A, a Governor of a nation may entrust all duties of the State to the Central Government or to its Officers, with the approval of the Government of India. 

Article 81was modified.   This has a provision which re-equalizes the allocation of seats for each state and the divisions into territorial electoral districts after each census. The resolution further calls for up to five hundred explicitly elected representatives from the local territories of the States, as may be constitutionally allowed by the Parliament, with a limit of twenty members from the Union Territories to Lok Sabha.

A limit of 500 representatives specifically elected from the electoral districts of the states and 20 members elected out of the Union Territory in the manner specified by statute by the parliament are to be composed of the House of the people. 

Article 153 has been incorporated, a clause allowing the same individual to be named as Governor of two or more States. 

Amendments have been rendered to Articles 170 and 171. At one-fourth of the power of the State's Legislative Assembly, the overall size of a State Legislative Council has been increased.

In amending Article 220, the retired judges of the High Courts stated that the custom was absolutely banned and that the retired judge was to work in the Supreme Court and in every High Court, rather than that of which he was a permanent judge. 

Article 230 was amended to require Parliament to expand the High Court's jurisdiction to every territories of the European Union, except the High Court's jurisdiction. 

Article 231 has been changed such that a rising High Court may be set up by Parliament for two or more Nations. 

Article 240 has been amended to allow for the stability, development and effective governance of Union territories of-

  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands; and
  • The Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands.

The President, by way of an administrator to be named by him, has amended Article 39 to ensure the administration of a Union territory. This also notes that the President can designate the Governor of State to administer a neighbouring territory of the Union. In that situation, the designated governor shall perform his duties independently of his ministerial council. 

In new Article 350A, any State which provides the primary education of children from linguistic minority groups for the instruction in the mother tongue and empowers the President to provide every State with orders for the security of these facilities.

A new added article 350B allows for the selection of Special Officers by the President whose task is that it shall investigate and report to the President on any matter pertaining to the protections provided for in the Constitution by the linguistic minorities. Such resolutions shall be sent to each house of Parliament and send it to the Governments of the concerned States. 

Legislative list entries for the purchase and request of land. Entry 33 of the list of Unions was removed and entry 36 of the list is substituted by entry 42 of the Concurrent List for a wider category covering the whole subject.


The reorganization scheme and other clauses of the Constitution pertaining to judges in the high courts and judicial tribunals, the administrative functions of the Union and the governments, and a number of the statutory lists had to be amended.