Fundamental rights are a set of rights granted to all people of the country by Part III of the Indian Constitution. These rights extend to all citizens living in the country, regardless of race, place of birth, religion, caste, or gender. They are legally recognised as rights needing a high level of government protection and cannot be infringed by the government. Individuals and private corporations cannot have their fundamental rights enforced. The government, the state, or its authorities has the responsibility for ensuring the protection of these rights.
The terms “the State” were employed by the writers of the Constitution in a broader sense than what is recognised in the common or narrower sense. It does not just refer to the states of the Union. The phrase ‘includes’ in the article indicates that the definition is not exhaustive, and the court has enlarged the reach of the Article much beyond what even the writers of Article 12 may have had in mind during the constitution’s formulation.
Meaning of State under Article 12
Article 12 of the Indian Constitution states that:
“Definition in this part, unless the context otherwise requires, the State includes the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and the Legislature of each of the States and all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.”
In other words, for the purposes of Part III of the constitution, the state comprises of the following:
- The Government and Parliament of India, often known as the Union’s Executive and Legislative bodies, are the Union’s Executive and Legislative bodies.
- Each state’s government and legislature, i.e. the Executive and Legislature of India’s numerous states
- All local or other authorities on Indian territory
- All local and other authorities controlled by the Government of India
Key terms discussed under the article:-
- Government (Union and state)
- Parliament and state legislature
- Local authorities
- Other authorities
- Territory of India
- Control of the government of India
Government (Union and state), Parliament and State Legislature
- Parliament: The parliament is made up of the President of India, the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, and the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament.
- Executive: The executive is the entity in charge of carrying out the legislature’s legislation and the government’s policies. The growth of the welfare state has greatly expanded the tasks of the state, and hence of the executive. People frequently associate the executive with the government. There has been a change in recent times.
- Legislature: The legislature is the organ of government in charge of enacting the government’s legislation. It is the agency’s role to define the state’s will and provide it with legal power and force. In layman’s terms, the legislature is the instrument of government that creates laws. In any democratic state, the legislature has a very distinct and vital role. It is the assembly of the people’s elected representatives, and it reflects national popular opinion and people’s authority.
- Government: The legislative or legislative branch, the administrative or executive branch, the law enforcement or judicial branch, and societal organisations. The legislative branch is comprised of the Lok Sabha (lower house) and the Rajya Sabha (upper house). The Indian President is the head of state and wields authority either directly or via officers subordinate to him. The Judiciary is comprised of the Supreme Court, High Courts, and numerous civil, criminal, and family courts at the district level.
- State Legislature: The State Legislature is the state’s legislative body. It is made up of two parts: the state legislative assembly and the state legislative council.
The interpretation of Article 12 becomes critical since basic rights can only be enforced against the state. The terms of Article 12 define who is a ‘state’. The judiciary attempts to bring more and more bodies under the scrutiny of the state so that more individuals may assert their basic rights against it. The definition of “other authorities” has shifted dramatically. The scope of Article 12 is expanding on a daily basis in order to offer justice to persons whose basic rights have been infringed. Its sole objective is to bring relief to those who are affected by this content.
 Article 12 in The Constitution Of India 1949
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