According to Article 12 of India’s Constitution, the term ‘State’ denotes the union and state governments, the Parliament and state legislatures, and all local or other authorities within India’s territory or under the control of the Indian Government.
The fundamental bodies embodied under Article 12:–
- The President of India and Governors of states with executive powers
- Any department of the Government like the Income Tax Department.
- Any institution controlled by the Government like the International Institute for Population Sciences
- LIC and ONGC, which perform tasks similar to governmental or sovereign functions.
- Municipalities, Panchayats, and other similar local authorities with the power to make and enforce rules, regulations, and laws.
- Any other organization which exercises sovereign functions.
- Article 12 does not clear about the definition of Jurisdiction.
Nevertheless, the school of thought is that since the judiciary can enforce laws, it should be considered a State. However, whereas a false judgment may cause a violation of the fundamental rights of a citizen, obstructive decisions of the Courts are subjected to the tests of Article 14 of the Constitution. Accordingly, the Government’s simple regulatory power over any statutory or non-statutory body is not enough for it to be deemed a State. The concerned administrative body has to be financially, functionally and administratively, and pervasively controlled by the Government.
Case Laws which discourse Article 12:–
- Ujjain Bai v. State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) – Supreme Court observed that Article 12 winds up the list of authorities falling within the definition by referring to “other authorities” within the territory of India which cannot be read as ‘of or as the same kind’ with either the Government or the Legislature or Local authorities.
- D Shetty v. Airport Authority of India – Five points were mentioned by Justice P.N. Bhagwati to understand if the ‘body’ in the news is instrumental to be called as the ‘State’ under Article 12 or not:
- The ‘Body’ can be called as ‘State’ if the Government of India holds its entire shared capital—
- Such other authorities have a governmental functional character
- The absolute control of such authorities lie with the Government
- Such authorities which have an element of command or authority
- The authorities discharging public service
- The debate whether BCCI should be included under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution shall be termed as the ‘State.’ In its 275th report, the Law Commission of India (Advisory Body to the Ministry of Law and Justice) has asked the Government to treat BCCI as an agency of the state under Article 12.
- In a recent petition to the Supreme Court demanding an introduction of a uniform financial assistance policy for the lawyers in emergencies, names of agencies like the Bar Council of India and the State Bar Councils came to the surface. Aspirants should know that these agencies are creating the statute and fall under the categories of “other authorities” within the meaning of Article 12 of the Indian Constitution.
- Sanjaya Bahel v. Union of India & Others case – The case dealt with the immunity enjoyed by United Nations Organizations (UNO) under the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947. Delhi High Court, in May 2019, declared that UNO is not a ‘State’ defined under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution.
- Another example of an expansive interpretation of the expression’ other authorities’ is Pradeep Kr. Biswas vs. Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (Appeal civil 992 of 2002), In this case, the Supreme Court held that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is an authority under Art. 12 and was bound by Art. 14. The Court has ruled that the “Control of the Government in CSIR is ubiquitous. The Court has now laid down the subsequent proposition for identification of ‘authority’ within Art. 12.
- In Sukhdev Singh vs. Bhagatram (AIR 1975 SC 1331), LIC, ONGC, and IFC were held to be stated as performing very close to governmental and sovereign functions. The corporations state when they enjoy
- Power to make the regulation;
- Regulations have the force of law;
- Clearance of five seats.