The term ‘State’ has been used in different provisions concerning fundamental rights. Hence, Article 12 has defined the term for the purposes of Part III. According to it, the State includes the following:
(a) Government and Parliament of India, that is, executive and legislative organs of the Union government.
(b) Government and legislature of states, that is, executive and legislative organs of state government.
(c) All local authorities, that is, municipalities, panchayats, district boards, improvement trusts, etc.
(d) All other authorities, that is, statutory or non-statutory authorities like LIC, ONGC, SAIL, etc.
Thus, State has been defined in a wider sense so as to include all its agencies. It is the actions of these agencies that can be challenged in the courts as violating the Fundamental Rights.
According to the Supreme Court, even a private body or an agency working as an instrument of the State falls within the meaning of the ‘State’ under Article 12.
In R.D Shetty v. Airport Authority of India Justice P.N Bhagwati gave 5 Point test This is a test to determine whether a body is an agency or instrumentality of the state and goes as follows –
- Financial resources of the State, where State is the chief funding source i.e. the entire share capital is held by the government.
- Deep and pervasive control of the State
- The functional character being Governmental in its essence, meaning thereby that its functions have public importance or are of a governmental character.
- A department of Government transferred to a corporation.
- Enjoys “monopoly status” which State conferred or is protected by it.