In this Part, unless the context otherwise requires, “the State’’ includes the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and the 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

Debate Summary

Article 12 defines the range of entities against which fundamental rights may be exercised as ‘State’. This Article corresponds to Article 7 of the Draft Constitution, 1948. It was debated in the Constituent Assembly on 25th November 1948.

 

Conflict emerged around two key issues.  First, why do we need Article 12 in the Constitution? Some noted that the definition was too wide and will result in confusion. The response to this concern was that Article 12 was indispensible to enforce fundamental rights, as it identifies the authorities against whom these rights can be claimed.

 

The second issues was the scope of phrase ‘local or other authorities’ – whether we need a separate clause or same clause. Some felt that this was too ambiguous and vague. Whether a range of state agencies like sub-magistrates could come under ‘other authorities’? The definition of ‘State’, within its ambit, cannot have ‘local or other authorities’. This could be remedied by reintroducing ‘local or other authorities’ in a separate clause in Article 12- this would remove ‘local or other authorities’ from definition of ‘State’ but retain the effect of the bringing them under constitutional scrutiny. On the question of authorities, it was clarified that it would mean – ‘upon every authority which has got the power to make laws or the power to have discretion vested in it.’

 

The Constituent Assembly adopted Article 12 on 25th November 1948