State Under Indian Constitution

Introduction

Part III of the Indian Constitution deals with the fundamental rights of a person which restricts the power of legislature, executive and judiciary. In order to define the scope and ambit of this the Constitution makers have defined the term ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution. State denotes the Union and State Governments, State Legislatures and the Parliament and all local and other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the government of India. Over the period of time the Supreme Court has explained that the ambit of ‘State’ also includes Corporations like LIC, and ONGC. The Supreme Court has laid down 6 categories which should be satisfied, then even a non-statutory body can be called as a State. This classification helped a lot to find out which body is a State or not.

Definition of State

According to Article 12 of the Constitution of India State can be defines as- “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 simple words the State comprises of the following-

  • Government and Parliament of India – It includes Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Chief justice of India, President, Prime Minister, Council of Ministers but it does not include Supreme Court.
  • Government and Legislature of each States – It includes Chief Ministers, Governors, Chief justice of High Courts, Council of Ministers, Vidhaan Sabha, Vidhaan Parishad but does not include the High Courts.
  • Local and other authorities within the territory of India – Section 3(31) of the General Clause Act, 1897 explains the term ‘Other Authorities’. It includes Municipalities, Panchayats, Zila Parishad, District Courts, Tehsildars etc. the term ‘Other Authorities’ has not been explained anywhere, it is up to the Hon’ble supreme Court to decide what will come under Other Authorities.

Under the scope of Article 12 of the Constitution of India the control of Government does not specifically means that the body has a total control of Government on it. It basically means that there should be some form of Governmental control on the functioning of the body. Merely on the fact that a body is a corporate body it does not becomes a State, statutory and non-statutory bodies both can be called as state only if they get financial resources from the government and the government have a deep persuasive control on its functioning.

For example, state can include bodies like ONGC, Delhi Transport Corporation and Electricity boards etc. but it does not include NCERT as it does not get financial resources from the government nor the government has a persuasive control on its functioning.

The test laid down in the case of Ajay Hasia Vs. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi & Ors,[1] is not rigid and therefore if a body falls within the ambit of the provided tests, then it should be considered as a State under the scope of Article 12 of the Constitution of India. It was discussed that – “whether in the light of the cumulative facts as established, the body is financially, functionally and administratively dominated by or under the control of Government. Such control must be particular to the body in question and must be pervasive.”

The concept of ‘Ejus Dem Generis’ evolved while describing the term ‘Other Authorities’. Ejus Dem Generis is a Latin term which means ‘of the same kind/ related things combined together under one heading’. In the case of Ujjan Bai Vs. Sate of U.P.,[2] the Hon’ble supreme Court rejected the concept of Ejus Dem Generis and overruled the case of University of Madras Vs. Shanta Bai[3]

Is Judiciary a State?

Article 12 of the Indian Constitution does not specifically define ‘Judiciary’ but it could be inserted within the scope of ‘Other Authorities’ because courts as set up statutes and exercise powers conferred to them by the law. The definition of state under article 12 of the Indian Constitution does not explicitly mention Judiciary. Bringing Judiciary within the scope of Article 12 would mean that it is deemed capable of acting in contravention of Fundamental Rights. Our Fundamental rights can be violated by the State under reasonable restriction like for the public interest, welfare of people or society, morality etc but if the State is violating the Fundamental Rights, then there should be some reasonable justification for the violation otherwise the state is liable to give compensation.

In the case of A.R. Antulay Vs. R.S. Nayak,[4] it was questioned whether Judiciary is a state under the ambit of Article 12 of the Constitution of India. The position of Judiciary under the scope of Article 12 is decided on the basis of its judgement and non-judgement. It was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that when the rule making power of Judiciary is concerned, then the Judiciary is a State under Article 12 but while exercising judicial power the Judiciary is not a State under Article 12.

Conclusion

The Indian Constitution not only gives Fundamental Rights to the citizens but also ensures that these rights are protected and this duty of protection is given to the State. The court through its judicial decisions has widened the scope and meaning of the term ‘State’ to include a variety of statutory and non-statutory bodies within the scope of Article 12 of the Indian Constitution. It has gained a wider sense of meaning so that Part III of the Indian Constitution can be applied to a larger extent.

Bibliography

  1. Legal Service India – http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1914/State-Under-Indian-Constitution.html
  2. iPleaders – https://blog.ipleaders.in/state-article-12-constitution-india/
  3. Indian Kanoon
  4. Black’s Law Dictionary

[1] Ajay Hasia Vs. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi & Ors, (1981) AIR 487

[2] Ujjan Bai Vs. Sate of U.P., (1962) AIR 1621

[3] University of Madras Vs. Shanta Bai, (1954) AIR Mad 67

[4] A.R. Antulay Vs. R.S. Nayak, (1988) AIR 1531

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