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State' As Defined In Article - 12

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

State' As Defined In Article - 12

State' as defined in Art. 12 : "State" is defined in Art. 12 of the Constitution. It


(1) the Government and Parliament of India;

(2) the Government and State Legislatures and

(3) all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the

control of the Government of India.

This definition is for purposes of Part III as writs can be issued only against the State, and, not against private or other bodies not included in the definition. The Supreme Court has widened the scope of 'local or other authorities' in its recent decisions.

(i) in Shanta Bai's case, the Madras High Court had held that the University was not within "other authorities" and hence, was not within the definition, no writ could be issued.

This was overruled by the Supreme Court in Rajasthan Electricity Board case. It held that 'other authorities' included the Electricity Board, University, etc.

(ii) in Sukhdev V. Bhagatram, the Supreme Court held that the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), LIC, Industrial Financial Corporation were within Art. 12.

(iii) in Airport Authorities Case, the Court held that to be an authority within Art. 12, it must be an agency or instrumentality of the Government. The tests are—

(a) Financial resources (must be by the government);

(b) Deep State Control;

(c) Functional Character must be government;

(d) Department of Government transferred to Corporation;

(e) Corporation, with State control or monopoly.

(iv) in Ajay Hasia's case the Supreme Court further enlarged the scope of Art. 12.

It held a government-owned society registered under Societies Registration Act, was an 'instrumentality' and hence, 'State'. It has been held that the Indian Statistical Society, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Food Corporation of India, Steel Authority of India, the Central Inland Water Transport Corporation, and Bombay Children's Aid Society are within the definition of 'State'.

Exceptions :

(1) Judiciary is not within the definition for purposes of Part III;

(2) Private Bodies, or authorities or Companies.


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