Article 12 of The Indian Constitution

Article 12 of The Indian Constitution: Fundamental rights are one set of rights granted to all people of the country by Part III of the Indian Constitution. These rights are generally applicable to all inhabitants of the country, regardless of race, birthplace, religion, caste, or gender.

They are legally recognised as rights that require the government to provide a high level of protection and cannot be infringed by the government. Individuals and private enterprises are not protected by fundamental rights. The government, the state, or its authorities are responsible for safeguarding these rights.

The majority of citizens’ fundamental rights are asserted against the government and its agents. It is critical to ascertain which bodies fit within the concept of a state in order to decide who has accountability.

The term “the State” were employed by the writers of the Constitution in a broader sense than what is commonly recognised. It does not just refer to the states that make up the Union. The phrase ‘includes’ in the article indicates that the interpretation isn’t really exhaustive, and the court has enlarged the ambit of said Article by judicial interpretations much beyond what the founders of Article 12 might well have intended when the constitution was drafted.

Purpose of The State under Article 12

According to John Locke, the aim of the state is the common good or the good of humanity. A state is an entity that exists to preserve life and respect the integrity of its citizens. Its objective is to protect the dignity and way of life of its citizens by protecting their rights. Individuals can’t have rights if the state is unable to fulfil its obligations.

The constitution’s framers desired to promote equality and diversity in which all citizens would have access to all essential fundamental rights. As a result, it became the state’s responsibility to enforce all of the citizen’s fundamental rights so that they might overcome the oppression imposed on them during the British era. Individuals require constitutional protection from the state.

Authority Under Article 12

An authority is a group of people who have official responsibility for a specific area of activity and have a moral or legal right or capacity to govern others and who exercise power or have a legal right to order and be followed.

A public administrative organization or company with quasi-governmental powers and the authority to manage a public enterprise is referred to as an authority. Power is the jurisdiction of authority in the law. In administrative law, an authority is a body that has jurisdiction over specific public concerns.

Governmental Authority

A government corporation that engages in commercial activities and is governed by the Companies Act. This isn’t an authority here under the article if it does not have the ability to make rules or regulations enforceable as law, or the authority to administratively enforce these rules or regulations.

The term “authority” refers to both the federal and state governments. It also covers any constitutional or statutory entities with legal authority, including autonomous bodies, regardless of whether they are considered agents or delegates of government.

Local Authority

It is necessary to define Authorities before knowing what a local authority is. “Authority,” as per Webster’s Dictionary, is an individual or body that has the authority to command. When used in conjunction with Article 12, the term authority refers to the power to create laws (or ordinances, rules, bye-laws, notifications, and so on) that have legal effect. It also involves the authority to enact and execute such laws.

Local Authority: According to Section 3(31) of the General Clauses Act of 1897,A

“A municipal committee, district panel, body of commissioners, or other authority legally allowed to or transferred by the Government with the regulation or managerial staff of a municipal or local fund.”

Local Authorities Determining Test

The Supreme Court ruled in Mohammad Yasin v. Town Area Committee that in order to be classified as a ‘local authority,’ the entity must:

  • It can’t just be a government agency; it has to be a legally separate organisation.
  • Work in a certain field.
  • Be directly or indirectly chosen by the residents of the region, in whole or in part.
  • Possess a particular level of autonomy (complete or partial).
  • Be entrusted with governmental activities and obligations that are normally committed to local governments by legislation (like medicine, education, health, markets, water, transportation, etc.).
  • Have the authority to collect taxes, rates, charges, or fees to raise cash for the advancement of its operations and the achievement of its goals.

Other Authorities

Article 12 contains no definition for the word “other authorities.” There isn’t any such provision or definition in the Constitution, the General Clauses Act of 1897, or any other Indian legislation. As a result, its meaning has been a source of contention, and court judgement has shifted over time.

Government duties can be carried out by government departments and staff or by autonomous groups that operate outside of the departmental framework. Companies, corporations, and other autonomous entities are examples of such independent bodies.

As a result, the judiciary has issued multiple judgments depending on the information and conditions of various cases in order to determine what ‘other authorities’ are inside the scope of the State.

Judiciary Under Article 12

The term ‘judiciary’ is not defined in Article 12 of the Constitution. This grants judicial authorities the authority to make judgments that may be in violation of an individual’s fundamental rights. If it were included in the definition of ‘State,’ it would be a legal responsibility not to infringe people’ fundamental rights, as stated in the article. As a result, the courts’ decisions cannot be contested on the basis that they infringe on a person’s basic rights. On the other hand, orders issued by courts in an administrative role (including the Supreme Court) have been routinely challenged as being in violation of basic rights.

Article 12 of The Indian Constitution
Article 12 of The Indian Constitution

State and Non-Government Bodies Under Article 12

Any society registered under the Society Registration Act of 1898 might be considered a state agency or instrumentality. Individuals or organisations fulfilling the essence of government, in support of a government, or in the discharge of a state responsibility can be deemed states.

When government representatives express themselves at the expense of the government, the composition is set. The regulations set for society are in line with the government, and they must also conform with all of the government’s directives. It should be evident that non-statutory groups are ruled by the government.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Board of Control for Cricket in India, or BCCI, is neither a state nor authority. It was decided that just because a non-governmental body performs a public function does not constitute it a state for the purposes of the article.

Since the state is now separating itself from commercial activities and concentrating on governance instead of business, the Supreme Court found that the scenario that existed at the time the decision was made no longer exists, and there is no need to enlarge the scope of other authorities.

Even though delivering education is a primary function of government, unaided schools do not fall under its scope. As a result, all authorities that conduct the essential functions of government and are directly or just under the control of government as from state must be followed.

Authority Located Outside India

These words broaden the extension of the fundamental rights to regions outside of India’s territory that may be under the control of the federal government of India for such time being, such as mandatory and trust territories that may be placed under the government supervision of India by international organisations. This article states that, in terms of individual basic rights, India does not discriminate between its own citizens and those from other nations who may fall under India’s jurisdiction as a result of an international agreement or the like.

The highest court, on the other hand, has given the foregoing phrases a meaning that differs from that of the constitutional assembly. The supreme court ruled that the terms under the power of the Indian government control the word authorities rather than the word territory.

Important Case Laws

The Madras High Court developed the idea of ‘ejusdem generis,’ or of like nature, in the case of University of Madras v. Shanta Bai. It indicates that only certain entities that execute governmental or sovereign activities are included by the term “other authorities.” Furthermore, it never be a natural or legal persons, such as unaided universities.

The court rejected the aforementioned narrow scope in Ujjammabai v. the State of U.P., holding that the ‘ejusdem generis’ criterion could not be used to interpret ‘other authorities.’ The bodies listed in Article 12 do not have a common genus, and thus cannot be classified into a specific category on any reasonable basis.

Finally, the Supreme Court, in Rajasthan Electricity Board v. Mohan Lal, stated that ‘other authorities’ would encompass any authorities established by the constitution or legislation and given powers by statute. It is not necessary for such statutory power to undertake government or sovereign tasks. The court highlighted that whether the authority bestowed on the organization is commercial or not is irrelevant.

By a 4:1 majority in Sukhdev Singh v. Bhagatram, the supreme court held that the oil and natural gas commission, life insurance corporation, and industrial finance corporation do seem to be authorities well within the meaning of Article 12 of the constitution, and thus they are stating all three statutory corporations have the power to make regulations under the statute for regulating conditions. The rules and regulations created by the aforementioned organisations have the power of law in terms of their workers’ service. The statute specifies the duration of interaction with the employer. These rules are enforceable by these bodies. Employees of these statutory organisations have statutory rights, and they have the right to declare that they are employed when their termination or dismissal is in violation of the statute. Employees have the right to file a claim against the corporation under Articles 14 and 16.

The question was raised whether a certain Regional Engineering College, Srinagar, established, administered, and controlled by society as actually registered under the J & K Registration of Societies Act, was really a State identified in the meaning of Article 12, in Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib (1981 AIR 487), whether one juristic person is a State. The majority five-judge panel, led by Justice Bhagabati, reaffirmed that the criterion for assessing whether a business fits under the meaning of State in Article 12 are whether this is a government instrument of power or agency. The question should not be how well the juristic person was created, but why it was created in the first place. As a result, it makes no difference if the corporation is constituted by or under a legislation. The term “machinery” or “government agency” refers to an organisation founded by legislation, but it may also refer to a firm or society when the appropriate circumstances are taken into account, as in the instance of the case of International Airport Authority.

While it was decided in Chandra Mohan Khanna v. NCERT (1982) that NCERT was outside the reach of Article 12. The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is a recognised society under the Societies Registration Act. It is essentially self-governing; its operations are not totally related to governmental functions; governmental oversight is limited to ensuring that its funds are used appropriately; and its funding is not entirely derived from government sources.

Pradeep Kr. Biswas v. Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (Appeal civil 992 of 2002) is another case where the Supreme Court concluded that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research be an authority under Art. 12 and is constrained by Art. 14.


According to the country’s supreme court’s interpretation of Article 12, it may be stated that while Article 12 is comprehensive, it is not exhaustive. It also comprises some authorities that meet the conditions of ‘local authorities’ and ‘other authorities’ under the definition of the state, in addition to the executive and legislative institutions of the state.

The requirement to identify what constitutes a state is to allocate the party who will be responsible for carrying out such a right. Not only that, but the definition of state in Article 12 contains several words with ambiguous meanings, including such local authorities, government control, other authorities, and so on, and as seen in the preceding sections, the courts have described the scope of the article by establishing a test and debating the meanings of the words.


  1. Pandey J.N, The constitution law in India, 49th edition.
  2. Shukla V.N, Constitution of India, 5th edition.
  3. Basu,D.D, Commentary on constitution of India, vol.1.
  4. Constitution of India.
  5. Profile – Fundamental Rights – Know India: National Portal of India. (n.d.). Home | Know India: National Portal of India.

Suggested Reading:

Go To Sundarban News Today’s Home PageClick Here
Go To Know India Portal’s Elaboration on
Fundamental Rights
Click Here
Article CategoryLegal Guide
Feel Free To Share!

Leave a Comment