LCI Learning

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More


  • Article 12 of the Indian Constitution
  • Local Authorities
  • Other Authorities
  • Landmark Judgements on Article 12 of the Constitution
  • Facts of Case Laws


In the Indian Constitution, the definition of “State” is provided in Article 12. As to Article 12, the term “State” encompasses the following:

  1. The Indian Parliament and Government.
  2. The legislative and executive branches of every Indian state.
  3. Every local government or other authority operating within Indian territory or under the direction of the Indian government.

The scope of fundamental rights protected by the Constitution and enforceable against the state depends on the definition of State provided under Article 12.

Article 12 is significant because it defines the term State, which is used in numerous sections pertaining to fundamental rights, including Articles 14, 15, and 21. These clauses defend people’s lives and liberties, for which discrimination is based on a variety of factors, and provide equality before the law.

By including local and other authorities within the Indian territory or under the control of the Indian government within the explanation of State under Article 12, it is ensured that these authorities are required to comply with the fundamental rights provisions of the Constitution and that any violation of these rights by such authorities may be challenged in court.




After being refused admission to a state-funded University in Madras on the grounds of discrimination (specifically against women), Shantabai filed a writ petition, alleging that her right against equality had been infringed upon under Article 14 of the Constitution.


The primary question in this case concerned whether the University of Madras qualified as a state as specified by Article 12 of the Indian Constitution.


It was the Madras High Court that developed the doctrine of “ejusdem generis,” or of a similar nature. It indicates that only those authorities that carry out governmental or sovereign duties are included under the term “other authorities.”  Moreover, it can not contain natural or legal persons, such as unaided universities.

The Court decided that the “University of Madras “cannot be regarded as a State under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution by applying this theory.



The primary question for the Supreme Court was the determination of the “local authority.”


The Supreme Court set down for identifying what constitutes a “local authority.” It decided that in order to qualify for this classification, the organisation had to meet certain legal requirements, including being a legally recognised corporate body, operating independence day of government agencies, functioning within a defined geographic area, having elected representation from local residents, maintaining some degree of autonomy, being required by lot to carry out standard municipal functions like health care, education, water management, town planning, transportation, etc., and having the capacity to reach money for its goals and operations through taxes, rates, charges, or fees.

3.    State Of West Bengal vs. SUBODH GOPAL BOSE (1953):


The respondent purchased Touzi No. 341 of the 24 Parganas collectorate in 1942, acquiring the right to eject all under tenants under Section 37 of the Bengal Revenue Sales Act. They sued in 1946 to evict tenants and recover land.


Ensuring protection and preservation of liberties and rights against State interference.


The Supreme Court released a significant ruling about the meaning and intent of Part III of the Constitution. The fundamental rights clause of the Constitution is a crucial safeguard that ensures the protection and preservation of liabilities and rights.

The Court’s ruling emphasised that Part III’s main goal is to create a strong barrier against any intrusion or violation of these rights caused by the State or its influence. Expanding upon this point, the Court underlined that the term State in this context refers to any government organisation, institution, or entity that is in the process of exercising public power, rather than just the literal meaning.

Fundamental rights are granted to people not only as a defence against future state oppression but also as a safe haven where people can exercise their rights without unwarranted interference. This is the fundamental understanding behind this interpretation.

The Court’s claim clarifies further that Part III of the Indian Constitution is a cornerstone that represents the core ideas upon which the country’s democratic system is based. The Constitution seeks to create a just and equitable society where human freedom and dignity are respected and the possibility of governmental power being abused or misused is effectively limited by outlining and defending these fundamental rights. 



In 1957, Uttar Pradesh’s government issued a notification allowing the exemption of sales tax for Bidi sales. However, the exemption was not absolute and required individuals to pay Central Excise Duty. A second notification in 1958 provided exemption without preconditions, allowing both machine-made and hand-made Bidis to be exempted from sales tax.

The petitioner ‘s firm filed quarterly returns and reported sales proceeds of empty packages. The Sales Tax Officer assessed Bidi from April 1, 1958, to June 30, 1958. The petitioner argued the exemption was granted, but the Sales Tax Officer argued the exemption applied to Bidis dealers, not the assessee. The High Court dismissed the case, bringing it to the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution.


Whether Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution is challenged by an order issued by an authority under a taxing statute and whether a petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution challenges the legality of such an order.


It was decided that the Supreme Court would overturn a quasi-judicial body’s ruling harming basic rights under Article 32 (certiorari power) if it operates extrajudicially, erroneously assumes jurisdiction, disregards the rule of natural justice, or disregards required procedural requirements.

Consequently, in this case, an order of assessment made by the authority under an intra-vires taxing statute would not be susceptible to challenge as a violation of Article 19(1)(g) in the sole context that it is based on an Act provision or a notification issued under the Act. As a result, the tribunal dismissed the petition since its decision was made outside the bounds of its authority.



China Cotton Exporters, a partner of Mr Thackersey, obtained licenses for importing art silk yarn, which was sold to handloom weavers only. To increase profits, three bogus handloom factories were established. Bhaichand G. Goda, a defence witness in the libel suit. Goda feigned ignorance and repudiated all allegations against Thackersey. Karanjia applied for permission to cross-examine Goda, and Goda requested that his evidence not be published in the press. The judge orally directed Goda’s evidence not to be published, and Karanjia argued that the administration of justice should be open to the public. The petitioner, aggrieved by the oral order, moved the Bombay High Court by a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. However, the court dismissed the petition, stating order and not amenable to a writ.


Whether the petitioner’s fundamental rights as outlined under Article 19 (1) (a), (d), and (g) are violated by the contested order, and if the Supreme Court has the authority to review the matter using Article 32(2).


The Court determined that the claim that the petitioner’s fundamental rights under Article 19(1) are affected by the contested order is based on an incorrect understanding of the judicial system and its decision-making process. According to Article 19(1), it was decided that a court ruling could not impact a citizen’s fundamental rights. Based on the petitioner’s rights, the Court determined that the challenge to the contested order must be unsuccessful.

The High Court’s judicial order binds strangers, but they cannot challenge it through appeal under Article 136. The order is passed in the exercise of the Court’s inherent jurisdiction, and its validity cannot be challenged through writ proceedings. The High Court is a superior court of records with all the powers, including the power to punish contempt. The petitioner’s argument that judicial orders can be corrected by the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction is rejected. The petitions are dismissed.



The State Government assigned 14 regular staff members to the Electricity Board. The first respondent was not promoted, while eleven board employees received promotions to assistant engineer. He argued that the Electricity Board’s decision to deny him a promotion was a violation of his fundamental rights as guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution. Following Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, he had addressed the High Court, and it determined the petition could be maintained.


The issue was whether an Electricity Board established by the Electricity Supply Act, 1948, qualified as a “other authority” for the purposes of Article 12.


The Supreme Court ruled that the Electricity Board qualified as an “other authority” under Section 12 of the Constitution. The Electricity Board was defined as falling under the definition of “state” since it functions as a government tool. The fact that the Board engaged in certain commercial operations was irrelevant.

The public’s electricity generation and distribution are the responsibility of the Board, a sovereign authority. It was also authorised to launch specific programs and conduct hydraulic surveys in order to perform its duties. The Board was deemed to be an ‘other authority’ under Article 12 because it had the ability to impose rules and regulations in order to exercise expert control over the electricity undertakings.

Regarding the application of the ejusdem generis principle, could not be utilised for reading Article 12. The bodies listed in Article 12 must share a “distinct genus” or other characteristics in order for this principle to be applied. The ejusdem generis concept could not be used to interpret Article 12 because the bodies named in it do not belong to any genus.



The petitioner in this instance was let go of his position as an employee of a statutory corporation. He petitioned the Supreme Court, arguing that Article 14 of the Constitution had been violated by the removal.


The court was tasked with deciding whether statutory organisations like the Industrial Finance Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, and Life Insurance Corporation qualified as “states.”


By a vote of 4:1, the Supreme Court determined that the three statutory corporations qualified as states under Article 12. The Court determined that three corporations function as the state’s instrumentalities and agencies. They can establish legally enforceable regulations and support the state in carrying out its duties. Furthermore, these firms are subject to widespread government control.



The Mumbai International Airport Authority announced a three-year contract for a second-class restaurant and snack bar, with a selected tender requiring five years of experience. The fourth respondent accepted the tender and entered into an agreement. 

The fourth respondent prepared and purchased items for a restaurant, but the first respondent couldn’t hand over sites due to A.S.  Irani’s previous contract. Irani filed a civil suit in Bombay. Irani’s attempts to appeal to the High Court and Supreme Court were unsuccessful. After multiple appeals, the Court granted the fourth respondent permission to run a restaurant and snack bar in the Bombay International Airport.


The question was whether Article 12 of the Indian Constitution designates the International Airport Authority as a State.


The Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the International Airport Authorities definitely qualified as a State and is an instrument or agency of the Central Government. 

The Court proceeded to determine that the government operating via an agency is subject to the same constitutional and public law limits as the government acting through its officers. Consequently, the Constitution ‘s limitations and other public regulations apply to the International Airport Authorities of India.

9.    AJAY HASIA vs. KHALID MUJIB (1980):


In this instance, a society constituted under the Jammu and Kashmir Registration of Societies Act, 1898, was in charge of managing an engineering college. An interview was scheduled with one of the applicants for admission to the college. He was questioned about his parents' place of living during the interview. There was no connection between these questions and the topic of the interview. The candidate then contested the interview procedure, claiming it was capricious and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.


The court was required to decide if the society registered under the Act met the requirements to be considered a state for the purposes of Article 12.


The Supreme Court’s five-judge panel unanimously decided that the society in charge of running the college qualified as a state under Article 12 and that society was a tool of the state. The process by which the juristic person came to be was irrelevant. The goal for which the college was established was the pertinent component.

Legislation registered the organisation that oversaw the college’s administration. The way society functioned was under the authority of the government. Consequently, society served as a government agency.



In order to challenge the dismissal from the ‘Indian Institute of Chemical Biology,’ a branch of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the appellants filed a writ suit in Calcutta High Court. The High Court denied the writ due to the position held in the “Sabhajit Tewary case (1967),” when it was decided that the CSIR was not an authority as defined by Article 12.


The primary question was whether the CSIR is a state in the sense that Article 12 of the Indian Constitution defines it, and if so, should this court overturn a ruling that has been in place for more than twenty-five years?


By a majority of 5:2, a seven-judge court ruled that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research qualifies as a state instrumentality under Article 12 of the Constitution. The Court established a set of guidelines for determining whether a certain entity qualified as a state for the purposes of Article 12.  The court determined that the guidelines established in the Ajay Hasia case were not inflexible and that a body falling under any of them qualifies as a state for the purposes of Article 12. According to the court, the question of whether the formed entity is financially, operationally, and administratively dominated by or under the control of the government will have to be evaluated in each case based on the relevant facts. Furthermore, this regulation needs to be widely spread and specific to the body in issue. In the event that these elements are discovered, the body will be interpreted as a state under Article 12.

After taking into account the ruling in Sabhajit Tewari vs. Union of India, the court reversed the verdict because it did not find that the CSIR qualified as a state under Article 12.

The government stated that as it has ultimate authority over the organisation and is an essential member of the CSIR governing body, it qualifies as a state under Article 12. The ruling expanded the state’s jurisdiction under Article 12 of the Constitution and established the standard for extensive and widespread state control.


Context and Issue:

A state question arose in this instance about the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), an organisation that was registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975.


The government neither owns a sizable portion of BCCI nor does it have extensive or deep control over the organisation’s operations, according to the Supreme Court. No statute was used to create BCCI, and it does not operate like a government body.

The Court ruled that, for the purposes of Article 12, the BCCI is not a state. Therefore, since Article 32 can only be used when the state violates someone’s fundamental rights, a writ petition under the provision will not be admissible if BCCI violates anyone’s rights. Under Article 226 of the Constitution, a lawsuit alleging fundamental rights violations against the BCCI would be appropriate.

12.    Lt. GOVERNOR OF DELHI vs. V K SODHI(2007):


The State Council of Education, Research, and Training (S.C.E.R.T.) was challenged by V.K. Sodhi against the amendment of Regulation 67. The High Court dismissed the S.C.E.R.T. plea that it was a society registered under the Societies Registration Act and that it relied on government grants for objectives. The high court overruled these, leading to an appeal to the Supreme Court.


The question was whether the Government has any influence on or control over the S.C.E.R.T. Should the responders be held to the Regulation 67 rules prior to its amendment?


It was decided that S.C.E.R.T. was not a state for the purposes of Article 12 of the Indian Constitution. The operation of the S.C.E.R.T. is not subject to extensive or widespread government control. The S.C.E.R.T. administers the funds entirely after they are made available to the Council, and the government stops interfering beyond the point. It was not possible to uphold the High Court’s directive. The appeals were both granted. The High Court orders were overturned. The petitioner filed writ petitions that were rejected. It was ordered that each party bear their own expenses.



The respondent, a data processing officer in the Uttar Pradesh Ganna Kishan Sansthan, was dismissed after the society’s governing council abolished their posts. He filed a writ petition, which was dismissed. However, a full bench judgement reversed the decision, stating that Sansthan is a state within Article 12 of the Constitution.


The question was whether the Uttar Pradesh Ganna Kishan Sansthan, an organisation recognised under the Societies Registration Act of U.P., considered a State in accordance with Article 12 of the Indian Constitution.


Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice S. B. Sinha, two judges on the Supreme Court bench, took up the case.

The Court noted that from an administrative and functional standpoint, the Sansthan is dependent on the state. In terms of finance, it was found that 80% of Sansthan’s costs are covered by the money from the State Government.

The Court concluded that Sansthan qualified as a State under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution based on observations about its goals, finances, and administrative structure.

 The State of Uttar Pradesh’s appeal was denied, maintaining the High Court ruling.

The Supreme Court has resolved any remaining uncertainty regarding the applicability of Article 12 of the Indian Constitution by restating the previously decided decisions in the well-known cases of Pradeep Kumar Biswas vs. Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Ajay Hasia vs. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi, Rajasthan State Electricity Board vs. Mohan Lal through this two-judge bench.



The Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council fired the petitioner in this case, who was employed by the Council. The petitioner argued that the notice of termination was unlawful since it infringed upon their basic rights.


The Delhi High Court was asked to rule on whether GJEPC qualified as a state for the purposes of Article 12.


The Court noted that the idea of a welfare state has changed so much in modern times that practically all institutions and corporations are under state supervision. Therefore, it is vital to examine whether the state has extensive control over a corporation in order to determine if it qualifies as an instrumentality of the state. Aid from the state cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt via financial means. The corporation should be subjected to exceptional stage regulation and substantial financial help in order to be classified as an agency of the state.

It can be determined that an institution is a state for the purpose of Article 12 if the government gives it such significant financial support as to cover nearly all of its expenses. The Court noticed that GJEPC is nothing more than a consortium of diamond and jewellery exporters. It just brings the exporter’s collective issues before the government. Therefore, the Council has no influence over the government’s policy decisions. 

Thus, the Court held that GJEPC is not a state within the purview of Article 12 and dismissed the petition.



The petition in this matter was submitted by the Chief Financial Officer of the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode. He was fired by the institution’s administration because they felt he was not performing up to par. The petitioner invoked Article 226 jurisdiction over the Kerala High Court to challenge the IIM Kozhikode verdict.


The Kerala High Court was asked to rule on whether IIM Kozhikode qualified as a state instrumentality. It was up to the Court to decide if Article 226 could be maintained.


The Indian Institutes of Management Act of 2007 constituted IIM Kozhikode as an autonomous body, the Court stated. The organisation was not established by a statute, nor did it enjoy monopoly status. The institution was first registered as a society, and the 2007 Act just placed the society’s operations within its purview.

The institute’s internal management is not subject to any meaningful control by the Central Government. Although the institute receives some financial support from the government, it cannot be considered significant financial support as the majority of the institute’s expenses are covered by its own income.

Lastly, the court noted that the government had not established any formal regulations to supervise the behaviour of the institution's staff. The staff did not impose any regulations on the employees' service. Although the institution must acquire the government’s prior consent before alienating any immovable property and presenting its accounts to the auditor and Controller General of India, these requirements might be interpreted as deep state control.

Thus, the High Court concluded that IIM Kozhikode does not fall under the jurisdiction of Article 12 because it is not a state instrumentality. The court rejected the writ petition.


The Indian Constitution mandates that the State guarantee people’s fundamental rights in addition to granting them. The Court has broadened the meaning of State to include a variety of statutory and non-statutory organisations through its judgements.

Article 12 must be interpreted carefully because it names organisations that are susceptible to the enforcement of fundamental rights only against the State. This decision is shaped by the definition of State in Article 12, which the judiciary is attempting to expand in order to enable more people to defend their basic rights.

The meaning of “other authorities” has been interpreted in many ways, which has greatly increased the application of Article 12 and increased the likelihood of justice for those whose rights are violated. The only goal is to give justice to all who fall under its purview.

"Loved reading this piece by Raya Banerjee?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"

Tags :

Category Others, Other Articles by - Raya Banerjee