Article 12 – ‘State’ for the purpose of Constitution

Article 12 – ‘State’ for the purpose of Constitution

This article deals with ‘Article 12 – ‘State’ for the purpose of Constitution – Indian Polity.’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here.

Article 12

Article 12 defines ‘State’ for the purpose of Part III of constitution- Actions of which can be challenged in courts as a violation of Fundamental Rights.

‘State’ includes

Article 12 - 'State' for the purpose of Constitution
  • Government & Parliament of India
  • Government & Legislature of States
  • All Local Authorities like Panchayat and Municipalities
  • Other Authorities within the Territory of India or under control of the territory of India  

Various Supreme Court judgments have pronounced the following to be within the ambit of the State as well 

  • Statutory and Non-statutory Authorities like LIC, ONGC, SAIL etc.
  • Private body working as an instrument of State.

The most problematic expression in Article 12 is Other Authorities because it is not defined in the constitution or any other statute of India. Consequently, it falls upon the judiciary to construe this term, and it becomes evident that the broader the interpretation of this term, the wider the scope of Fundamental Rights will be.

Judicial History

If we look at the judicial history, the Courts have widened the ambit of the STATE with subsequent Judgements.  

Important Cases

  • The University of Madras vs Shanta Bai (1954): The Supreme Court of India pronounced the Principle of ‘Ejsudem Generis,’ i.e. only those authorities which perform governmental or sovereign functions can be included in Article 12. 
  • In Rajasthan Electricity Board v. Mohan Lal: In the case of Rajasthan Electricity Board v. Mohan Lal, the Supreme Court ruled that the term ‘other authorities’ encompasses any entities established by either the constitution or statutes. This statutory body is not required to be involved in carrying out governmental or sovereign functions.
  • (Landmark Judgement) RD Shetty vs International Airport Authority (1979): The Supreme Court laid down the following tests for authority to be recognized as a STATE
    • The State owns the entire share capital. 
    • Enjoys monopoly status 
    • Department of Government is transferred to the Corporation. 
    • Functional character is governmental in nature. 
    • The body is under deep and pervasive state control.

Other Concern in the era of Privatisation and Liberalisation

  • In the era of LPG, the State is outsourcing its functions to the private authorities.   
  • Hence, where a private entity performs any Public Utility Function, it should come within the purview of Article 12. National Commission to Review the Working of Constitution,2002 has recommended the same.