Before we define the term state we should know why we need to define the term State,
what is the need of the definition of State. Answer is the term State has been defined in article 12 of the Constitution because the rights provided under Part III of the Constitution of India is against State so it is necessary to define the term State. Article 13 clause two provides that the state shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this part and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void.
Meaning and definition of the term State.
Article 12 of the Constitution defines the term ‘State’ as used in different articles of Part III of the constitution-
“In this part unless the context otherwise requires the state includes the government and Parliament of India and the government and 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.”
Under article 36 the same definition is adopted unless the context otherwise requires for the purpose of implementation of Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV.
Thus Article 12 includes followings within the meaning of State –
A. The government and the Parliament of India i.e. executive and legislative of the union .
B. The government and the Legislature of each state i.e. executive and Legislature of the states.
C. All local or other authorities within the territory of India.
D. All local and other authorities under the control of the Government of India.
To understand the meaning of “State” it is necessary to explain the terms used in Article 12. The terms “The Government and Parliament of India” and “The Government and the Legislature of each State” is clear in their meaning, so there is no need to explain these here.The two remaining terms are “All local or other authorities” and it requires explanations.
Meaning of authority.
According to Webster’s dictionary authority means “a person or body exercising power to command.” In the context of article 12 the word authority has the power to make laws, orders, legislations, bye-laws, notifications etc. which have the force of law and power to enforce these laws.
Meaning of Local Authorities.
Local authorities as defined in Section 3 Clause 31 of the General Clauses Act,1897 refers to authorities like Municipality, District Boards Panchayats, Improvement Trust and Mining Settlement Boards etc. Thus the Local Authorities refers to local self government bodies.
Meaning of Other Authorities.
The expression “Other Authorities” has neither been defined in the Constitution nor in any statute. It is left to the discretion of the court to interpret the expression so as to determine the scope of the fundamental rights.
Judicial Approach on Other Authorities.
Ejusdem generis rule.
University of Madras vs Shanta Bai AIR 1954 Mad. 67
It is the first case in which Madras High Court interpreted the term Others Authorities.
In Article 12 the expression “Other Authorities” is used after mentioning a few of them such as the Government, Parliament of India, The Government and Legislature of each of the states and all local authorities.
So Court applied the rule of ‘ejusdem generis’
And held that only the authorities exercising governmental are sovereign functions would come within the meaning of the Other authorities, and it was held that university of Madras is not State though it was state aided but a body corporate, not maintained by state.
But this interpretation was rejected by The Supreme Court in the case of Ujjama Bai vs State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 1962 SC. and held that the sales tax officer constituted under The Sales Tax Act assessing the tax would come within the meaning of other authorities under article 12.
Electricity Board Rajsthan vs Mohanlal A.I.R. 1967 SC. Supreme court held that the expression Other Authorities is wide enough to include all authorities created by the Constitution or statute on whom powers have been conferred by law. It is not necessary that the statutory authority should be engaged in performing governmental or sovereign functions. On this interpretation the expression includes Rajsthan Electricity Board, Cochin Devasom Board, Co-operative Society which have the power to make by-laws under Cooperative Society Act 1911.
The Chief Justice of High Court is also included in this he had the power to appoint official of the court [ Parmatma Varun vs chief justice AIR 1964 Rajasthan] The President when making orders under article 359 of the Constitution of India is within the the expression other authorities. [ Haroobhai v. State AIR 1964 Gujarat ]
In Umesh vs V.N. Singh AIR 1968. Patna High Court following the decision of the supreme court in the State of Rajsthan Vs. Mohanlal case held that the Patna University is a state within the meaning of article 12 of the constitution.
In Sukhdev Singh vs Bhagat Ram AIR 1975 SC 1331.The Supreme Court held that oil and natural Gas Commission, Life Insurance Corporation and industrial Finance Corporation are authority within the meaning of article 12 of the constitution and therefore they are state.
Agency or instrumentality of State.
Ramana Dayaram Shetty vs International Airport Authority of India AIR 1979 SC. The supreme court held that if a body is an agency instrumentality of government it may be an authority within the meaning of article 12 whether it is a Statutory Corporation,Government Company or even a registered society.
Test whether a body is an agency or instrumentality.
The court laid down the following tests for determining whether a body is an agency are instrumentality of the government –
i – financial resources of the state is the chief funding source.
ii – existence of Deep and pervasive state control.
iii -functional character being governmental in essence.
iv – whether a Department of government is transferred to a corporation.
v – whether the corporation enjoys Monopoly status which is state confirmed or state protected.
This test is not conclusive but illustrative only and will have to be used with care and caution.
accordingly it was held that International Airport Authority has been constituted by an act of the Parliament so it is state within the meaning of article 12 of the constitution.
In Som Prakash Vs. Union of India Air 1981 SC. The Supreme Court held that a government company Bharat Petroleum Corporation fell within the meaning of the expression the state used in article 12. The expression ‘Other Authorities’ will include all constitutional and statutory authorities on whom powers and are confirmed for the purposes of carrying commercial activities or bodies created for the purpose of promoting economic activities.
In Ajay hasiya Vs. Khalid Mujib 1981 SC, it has been held that society registered under the societies Registration Act 1898, is an agency or instrumentality of the state and hence a state within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution.
These are the cases which explained the term State and now it is clear the meaning of State by above discussion.