State under Article 12

  1. Introduction
  2. Fundamental Rights & Article 12
  3. Meaning of State Under Article 12
    1. State Comprise the following
  4. Key Terms discussed in Article 12
    1. Local Authority- Mohammad Yamin Vs Town area committee
    2. Other Authority- Ujjammabai Vs state of UP, Electricity Board, Rajasthan Vs Mohan Lal, RD Shetty Vs International Airport Authority
  5. Conclusion


The term State seems very simple is we take in its usual meaning. However for article 12 of the Indian Constitution it’s totally different. It’s not only the sovereign authority that governs the people of a particular country. But it also includes those authority and organization that are directly or indirectly governed by the sovereign.

This article tries to clear the meaning of those authorities under article 12. Also it gave a higher emphasis to case laws which are equally important as the law itself.

Fundamental Rights & Article 12-

Fundamental right are a group of right which are guaranteed to all citizens of the nation by the constitution of India part 3.these right apply universally to all citizens residing in the nation, irrespective of their race, place of birth, religion, cast Or gender, they are recognized by law as right requiring a high degree of protection from government and they cannot be violated by the government.
Art 12 give an extended significance to the term state it is very important to determine what bodies fall under the definition of a state so as to determine on whom the responsibility has to be placed.

Meaning of State under Art 12 –

The concept of state action is not defined in the constitution rather it is a concept which is implied in Art 12 of the constitution of India. The Art 12 is the first art in part 3 of the constitution and it enlists the fundamental right guaranteed to the people. As the fundamental rights are expressly guaranteed against the state first.

The state comprises of the following –

  1. Government and parliament of India that is the executive and legislature of the union.
  2. Government and legislature of each state.
  3. All local or other authority within the territory of India.
  4. All local and other authority who are under the control of the government of India.

Key terms discussed under the Art 12 –

  • Government (union and state)
  • Parliament and state legislature
  • Local Authority
  • Other Authority
  • Control of government of India

The term state includes executive and the legislative organs of the Union and the state besides the local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the government of India.
Authority means a person or body exercising power to command. In Art 12 the word authority means the person Or body having the power to make laws orders, regulations bye -laws Notifications etc. which have the force of law and have the power to enforce those laws.

Local Authority

Local authority as defined in Act 1987, “Local authority shall mean a Municipal committee district board, body of committee or other authority legally entitled to or entrusted by the government within the control or management of a municipal or local fund.

Mohammad Yamin Vs Town area committee[1]
In this case the SC has considered the municipal corporation under the term “state” used in Art 12.

Other Authority –

The term other authority in art 12 has nowhere been defined neither in the constitution nor in the general clauses Act 1897 nor in any other statute of India. Therefore its interpretation has caused a good deal of difficulty and judicial opinion has undergone changes over time.

Ujjammabai Vs state of UP[2]
The SC reject this restriction interpretation of the expression other authority given by the Madras HC in University of Madras vs Santabai and held that the ejusdem generis rule could not be resorted to the in interpreting this expression. It observed that there is no common genus between the authorities mention in Art 12 .

In Art 12 the bodies specifically named are the government of union and the state, the legislature of the union and state , local authorities there is no common genus running through these named bodies nor can these bodies so placed in one single category on any rational basis.

 Electricity Board, Rajasthan Vs Mohan Lal[3]

It was held that to be state, it is necessary that the authority must be performing governmental or
sovereign functions it should –
1.Be created by the constitution of India
2.Have power to make laws
3.Performance of functions very close to governmental or sovereign functions.

RD Shetty Vs International Airport Authority[4]
the court laid down five test to be another authority –
1. Entire share capital is owned or managed by state.
2. Enjoys monopoly status
3. Department of government is transferred to corporation.
4. Functional character governmental in essence.
5. Deep and pervasive state control.


The State under Article is exclusively a Government controlled body. The terms in which the organization is controlled is also given by courts in various judgments.

The relevance of this article is really important because without it there is no existence of fundamental right. And to be more accurate there can be no enforcement of fundamental rights without the meaning of State under article 12.

[1] AIR 1952 SC 115

[2] AIR 1962 SC 1621

[3] AIR 1967 SC 1857

[4] 1979 AIR 1628

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