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Indian Constitution: Article 12



  May 02, 2024

Indian Constitution: Article 12



► Introduction

Article 12 of the Indian Constitution plays a crucial role in the context of fundamental rights. It provides a definition of 'The State', a term critical to understanding against whom these rights can be enforced. This article sets the framework for legal actions where government bodies are involved, ensuring that citizens can hold them accountable under the Constitution.

► Definition of 'The State'

According to Article 12, 'The State' includes several entities:

The Government and Parliament of India: This encompasses the central government and the national legislative body responsible for making laws.

The Government and the Legislature of each of the States: Similar to the central government, this includes state governments and their respective legislative bodies.

All local or other authorities: This part of the definition extends to local government bodies like municipal councils and panchayats, as well as other authorities operating within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.For example, public sector units.

► Significance of the Definition

The inclusion of these entities under the umbrella of 'The State' is significant for several reasons:

Legal Recourse Against the State: When individuals or groups feel that their fundamental rights are being infringed upon, they can approach the courts for relief against any of these entities, arguing that they are part of 'The State' as defined by Article 12.

Scope of Fundamental Rights (FRs): Most fundamental rights are claims against the State. This definition ensures that these rights have a broad scope, encompassing various levels of governance and authorities.

Judicial Review and Writs: The courts are empowered to issue writs against these entities if it is proven that they are part of 'The State'. This is a critical mechanism for enforcing fundamental rights and ensuring governmental accountability.

Exclusion of Judiciary: Notably, the judiciary is not included within the definition of 'The State' under Article 12. That is because, it is the umpire, not a player. This exclusion means that fundamental rights claims cannot be directly made against the judiciary, which maintains a certain separation of powers and judicial independence.

► Conclusion

Understanding Article 12 is essential for anyone studying the Indian Constitution or involved in legal proceedings concerning fundamental rights. It defines the scope of governmental entities that can be held accountable under these rights, delineating the landscape of legal and constitutional accountability in India. This provision ensures that the government at all levels can be challenged and scrutinized, reinforcing the framework of rights and responsibilities that govern the nation.


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