Article 12 of Indian Constitution

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 16, 2022, 10:39

Part III of the Indian Constitution, from Article 12 to Article 35, lays forth the fundamental rights assured by the 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.

Article 12 of the Indian Constitution - Definition

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.

The following are included in the "state":

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 are 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 Authorities 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 Authorities Examples: Central Vigilance Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, and Lokpal and Lokayuktas.

Note: The term "other authorities" has been given a broad definition by the courts, 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.

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Control of the Government per Article 12 of the Indian Constitution

  • 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.

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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 definition of the state, in addition to the executive and legislative institutions of the state.

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.

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FAQs on Article 12

Q1. To which part of the Constitution of India does Article 12 belong?

Ans. Article 12 belongs to Part III of the Indian Constitution.

Q2. What does Article 12 of the Indian Constitution entail?

Ans. Article 12 of the Indian Constitution comprises of defining the term 'State,' which appears in Part III of the Constitution while discussing the applicability of the Indian Citizens' Fundamental Rights.

Q3. Which government bodies shall be called "state" under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution's definition of the local authority?

Ans. Panchayat, Nagar panchayat, Municipality, and organizations like LIC, ONGC, GAIL, etc., are also called "state" under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution.

Q4. Does Article 12 of the Indian Constitution constitute a Fundamental Right?

Ans. 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.