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The presence of some element of Public Duty or Function would not by itself make a body ‘State’ under Article 12.


The following is the case summary of the case of Kishor Madhukar Pinglikar v. Automotive Research Association of India. This case is a landmark judgment to understand the parameters which must be analysed for a body to be under Article 12 of the Constitution of India. 

According to Article 12, the entities which are considered to be the State for the purpose of Part III are – The government of the State and the Union, the Legislature of the State and the Parliament, all local and other authorities within the territory or control of the Government of India. The present case is one such landmark judgment wherein it was an appeal before the Supreme Court of India against an order of the Bombay High Court to see if the body in question was under the ambit and scope of Article 12.

The respondent Automotive Research Association of India is a State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India and covered under Part III rights, which is where the question arises in this particular case. The Bombay High Court refused to entertain the writ petition on the ground that an agency could not become a ‘State’. However, the Supreme Court observed that the set principles are not fully rigid, but it has to be seen whether the body is financially, functionally, and administratively dominated by or under the direct control of the Government of India. If it is merely a regulatory body then it will not be considered a ‘State’ under the ambit of Article 12.


The Court called out the governing parameters and tests for determining whether a body falls within the parameters and tests for determining whether it falls within the purview of Article 12 on the basis of a long line of precedents including the Constitutional Bench judgment of Pradeep Kumar Biswas v. Indian Institute of Chemical Biology. It was seen that the Government never got to have any say in the Constitution of India, establishment, or operation of the automotive association, nor did the Government ever make any contribution in the capital towards the setting up of it. The majority of members of the association do not have any link or relation to the Government. They were mostly private players, it was discussed how the Council that manages and oversees the affairs of the respondent Association has no Governmental interference or involvement except for the nomination of 3 members to its body of 30 members body. The employees are mainly governed by the memorandum of articles of association without any guidelines or statutory prescriptions being made by the Government in this regard. The meeting and the decision-making procedure of the association do not involve any kind of say of the Government. 



  • The counsel for the appellant argued that Rule 126 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, which requires that every manufacturer or importer of the motor vehicle shall submit the prototype of the vehicle to be manufactured or imported by him to any specified Association for issuance and grant of certificate by that agency for compliance of the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act and Rules.
  • The counsel for the appellant submitted before the Court paragraph 32 and 33 of the decision authored by N. Santosh Hegde v. Zee Telefilms Ltd, and another v. Union of India and others, (2005) 4 SCC 649 and submitted that the respondent Association is performing public functions and thus would be amiable to Writ proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.


The present judgment and order do not specify any of the arguments and submissions placed by the counsel of the Respondent.


  • ARTICLE  12

This Article mainly defines the State and its constituents with respect to Part III and Part IV of the Constitution of India, which are mainly Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Polic.

  • ARTICLE  226 

Article 226 enables the High Court to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the form of Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Certiorari, or any of them, to any person or authority, including the Government.


The Court opined that it is to be seen that form of a body to be understood as ‘State’ is certainly not an inflexible arrangement of standards. The Court finally held that the Association was not functionally, operationally, and administratively dominated by the Government. Thus, the Court held that the association was not functionally, operationally, and administratively dominated by government control, rather it enjoyed significant and substantive freedom or autonomy. In view the Court ordered to decline to interfere in the decision made by the Bombay High Court that the Automotive Research Association of India was neither an agency nor instrumentality of the Government, thus being not covered by Article 12 of the Constitution. According to the Court, the respondent association is not under Central Government’s control, and the supervision is restricted and confined to specific features that do not have the impact of deep and pervasive  Central Government control.


The state is an entity against which one brings forward their claims and enforces their existing rights. The state is defined under Article 12 of the Constitution of India. It is the entity against which Fundamental rights can be claimed. It may or may not be mentioned but Fundamental Rights are positive and negative rights brought against the State. The Court has rightfully provided guidelines as to what must be taken into account and there must be a holistic approach when one has to analyse the instrumentalities to understand if an entity comes under the definition of State or not. The Court rightly held that one aspect or one feature/function of an institution is supervised by or is under the direct or indirect control of the Government. Furthermore, careful segregation between Article 12 and non-Article 12 entities is essential to strike balance and this judgment is rightly so it provides effective guidelines as to what constitutes an entity under Article 12 and what functions and criteria one should look for in order to ascertain the same.


  • Ajay Hasia v. Khalid Mujib , (1981) 1 SCC 722
  • Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. Airport Authority of India, (1979) 3 SCC 489
  • Electricity Board, Rajasthan SEB v. Mohan Lal, AIR 1967VSC 1857
  • Zee Telefilms v. Union of India , (2005) 4 SCC 




Written by Sushila Saha, Department of Law, Calcutta University.


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