The Constitution of India provides for a definition of State, including all the aspects that are relevant in the expansive meaning of the term State.
According to this Article of the Constitution, State refers to the Central and State Governments, the local authorities and all other authorities that are under the control of the Government.
An authority may be set up by a statute or can also be a non-statutory body. Non statutory bodies are those that are registered by a general law. Other authorities must pass the test of instrumentality in order to qualify as State according to Article 12. In order to truly understand the term “other authorities”, we must look into the various case laws in this regard that are defining and adding to the list of authorities that are defined as State in the Constitution of India.
The State Electricity Board which provide for commercial activities of supply of electricity qualifies as a State under Article 12 as seen in the case Rajasthan State Electricity Board v. Mohanlal. Further, the Finance Corporation, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) are also falling in the ambit of Article 12 of the Constitution of India as decided in the case Sukhdev v. Bhagatram. The International Airport Authority is also a part of the wide ambit of State according to R.D. Shetty v. International Airport Authority.
Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib, a significant case in this regard, set forth the principles of how an authority can be distinguished as a State under Article 12 of the Constitution of India. These principles included the determination of share capital, financial assistance, protection of the status of monopoly, proximity and deep, persuasive control in relation with the Government. These principles were set for the determination of the State under Article 12 of the Constitution of India.
A well- known institution that may be considered a part of the State but actually may not be is banks. In Federal Bank Limited v. Sagar Thomas, it was held that though the bank is performing a public duty, the share holding is largely by private institutions. Hence, the bank is merely a body carrying out commercial activities whose decision making lies in the hands of the Board of Directors. Due to this reason, the bank was not considered to be a part of the definition of State under Article 12.
The judiciary is also a part of State under Article 12 of the Constitution of India even though there is not an express mention of the same. The case that decided this matter was A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak.
These are the important case laws in order to understand the wide scope of Article 12 of the Constitution of India. The importance of Article 12 of the Constitution of India is highlighted especially as some fundamental rights are only applicable against the State.
 Rajasthan State Electricity Board v. Mohanlal, 1967 AIR 1857.
 Sukhdev v. Bhagatram, AIR 1975 SC 1331.
 R.D. Shetty v. International Airport Authority, 1979 AIR 1628.
 Federal Bank Limited v. Sagar Thomas, (2003) 10 SCC 733.
 A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak, 1988 AIR 1531.
Tags : Constitution of India