From 1952 to 1966 (the year Haryana was carved out of Punjab) Chandigarh was the capital of Punjab. Citizens of the city were represented in the state's Legislative Assembly and a Chief Commissioner headed the local administration. While Punjab had remained undivided, Chandigarh, like other large cities of India, fitted into the larger framework of the state administration. When Punjab was divided, both Punjab and Haryana claimed the new city for its capital. Pending resolution of the issue, the Central Government made Chandigarh a Union Territory (under Section 4 of the Punjab Re-Organisation Act, 1966, with effect from November 1, 1966) with its administration functioning directly under the Central Government. Under the provisions of this Act, the laws in force in the erstwhile State of Punjab prior to November 1,1966, continue to be applicable to the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

The practice of appointing an Administrator of the UT designated as "Chief Commissioner" continued up to May 31, 1984. There after, on June 1, 1984, the Governor of Punjab took over the direct administration of the Union Territory as the Administrator. "Chief Commissioner" was redesignated as "Adviser to the Administrator". Ever since June 1984, the Governor of Punjab has been functioning as the Administrator of Union Territory of Chandigarh.