Article 12 of Indian Constitution - Definition of State Under Article 12, UPSC Notes

By K Balaji|Updated : November 9th, 2022

Article 12 marks the beginning of Part 3 of the Indian Constitution, from Article 12 to Article 35, which lays forth the fundamental rights the constitution assures. The Article 12 of Indian Constitution presents the Definition of State in Indian Constitution.

Article 12 of the Indian Constitution is the first article in Part III, and while it does not guarantee any rights, it does identify the authorities and entities that are considered a "state" and against whom basic rights can be enforced. Understand the Definition of State under Article 12 to gain better clarity on the remaining right.

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Article 12 of the Indian Constitution

As per Article 12, unless the context otherwise requires, "the state" includes the Government of India and Parliament of India, the Government and the Legislature of each of the States, and all local or other authorities within the domain of India or under the authority of the Government of India.

Article 12 of the Indian Constitution

Download Article 12 of the Indian Constitution UPSC Notes PDF

Definition of State Under Article 12

State Under Article 12 is defined as follows. The following are included in the "state":

Definition of State Article 12

Concept of State Under Article 12

Government of India (Central Government of India)

All Ministers, Ministries, Departments, Army, PSU, etc.

Parliament of India

Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, President, Speaker, Chairman, all members, and work is done by them, passed laws, etc.

Government of India (State Government)

All Ministers, Ministries, Secretaries, and all people working under State government, rules, laws, etc.

State Legislature

State Legislative Assembly, Legislative Council of State, Members, Speaker, Laws, Gadgets, Documents passed by them, etc.

Local Authority

Municipalities - Municipal Corporations, Nagar Palika, Nagar Panchayats, Zila Panchayats, Mandal Panchayats, Gram Panchayats, District Boards, Improvement Trusts, Organizations (LIC, ONGC, GAIL), etc., including the Local Officials like Commissioner, Collector, Police, Government Doctor, Bus Driver, etc.

Statutory and Non-Statutory Authorities

Statutory Bodies - Examples: National Human Rights Commission, National Law Commission, National Green Tribunal, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, National Commission for Women, Armed Forces Tribunal


Non-Statutory Bodies - Examples: Central Vigilance Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, and Lokpal and Lokayuktas.

‘Other Authorities’ and State Under Article 12

Definition of State Under Article 12 also includes the term ‘other authorities. The courts have defined the term "other authorities" broadly, but the list is far from comprehensive.

Under "other authorities", the following bodies have been incorporated:

  • Bodies exerting statutory powers formed under a statute
  • Bodies acquiring substantial funding from the government
  • Bodies serving governmental functions
  • Bodies under the regime of the government

Note: According to the Supreme Court, any private enterprise that collaborates with or for the government qualifies within the definition given in Article 12 of the Indian Constitution.

The definition of 'other authorities' has shifted dramatically with time. The judiciary has repeatedly attempted to bring more and more bodies under the concept of state for the greatest number of persons to be able to assert their basic rights.

Control of the Government Under Article 12

The control of the government under Article 12 does not necessarily imply that the body is under the government's complete authority. It simply implies that the government must have some kind of influence over how the body functions.

  • A body's status as a statutory body does not automatically make it a 'State' body. Both statutory and non-statutory organizations can be deemed a 'State' if they receive financial resources from the government and are subject to extensive government oversight.

According to the Supreme Court of India's interpretation of Article 12 of the Indian Constitution, it can be articulated that while Article 12 may seem inclusive, it is not exhaustive. It also comprises some authorities that meet the conditions of 'local authorities and 'other authorities' under the state's definition, in addition to the executive and legislative institutions of the state.

Is Judiciary a State under Article 12?

Article 12 does not specifically refer to the judiciary (Supreme Courts, High Courts, or State/District Courts) as a "State in the Definition of State in Indian Constitution. However, the judicial branch cannot enact laws that violate fundamental rights on its own.

  • In the Ashok Hurra Case, the Supreme Court reiterated that Article 12 does not apply to Superior Courts of Justice and that any judicial process cannot violate Fundamental Rights.

Article 13 of the Indian Constitution states that no state shall enact legislation disobeying Part III requirements.

Article 12 UPSC

Several questions are asked in both UPSC prelims and mains about what is state and how it is defined under Article 12. Aspirants can refer to Laxmikant to cover and understand the topic or can directly read the detailed Article 12 of Indian constitution notes.

Candidates can also practice UPSC Polity Previous Year Question to get a better understanding. One of the sample questions is given below.

Which of the following is not included in the term ‘State’ as defined in the article 12 of the Constitution?

  1. Parliament
  2. State Legislature
  3. Union Judiciary
  4. State Judiciary (High Court)
  5. Union Executive
  6. State Executive
  7. All local authorities of India
  8. All local authorities under the control of Govt. of India.

Option 1- i, ii

Option 2- iii, iv

Option 3- v,vi

Option 4- vii,viii

The correct answer is Option 2- iii, iv

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FAQs on Article 12 of Indian Constitution

  • Article 12 belongs to Part III of the Indian Constitution, marking the beginning of the Fundamental Rights. Article 12 of the Indian Constitution defines the term ‘State’ for the Fundamental Rights

  • Article 12 of the Indian Constitution comprises Definition of State in Indian Constitution which appears in Part III of the Constitution while discussing the applicability of the Indian Citizens' Fundamental Rights.

  • Definition of State Under Article 12 include the Government of India and Parliament, the Government and Legislature of each State, and all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the authority of the Government of India are all considered to be "the state" unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

  • Panchayat, Nagar panchayat, Municipality, and organizations like LIC, ONGC, GAIL, etc., are also called "state" under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution. Definition of State Article 12 includes all the above stated local authorities.

  • Technically, Article 12 of the Indian Constitution does not constitute a fundamental right, but it does define the word 'State' for the core Fundamental Rights expressed in Articles 14 to Article 35.

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