The Supreme Court ruled that presence of some element of public duty or function not suffice for bringing a body within the net of Article 12.
The division bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Bela M. Trivedi observed that the determination of a body as a ‘State’ is not a rigid set of principles. What is to be seen is whether in the light of the cumulative facts as established, the body is financially, functionally and administratively dominated by or under the control of the Government, albeit if the control is mere regulatory, whether under statute or otherwise, it will not serve to make the body a State. Also, the presence of some element of public duty or function would not by itself suffice for bringing a body within the net of Article 12.
The court noted that that the government did not have any say in forming and establishing the respondent Association, which came into existence in 1966. The government had no role and had not made any capital contribution towards its setting up. The respondent Association is an autonomous body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and a Public Trust under the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act, 1950.
The court opined that the restrictive stipulations would not affect the overwhelming and pervading role of the Council and to some extent, the General Body in the functioning, administration and management of the respondent Association.
The court said that the respondent Association is not under the control of the central government and the supervision is limited and confined to specific aspects, which do not have the effect of deep and pervasive control of the Central Government.
The court stated that one function assigned to the respondent Association, which is not the primary and forms a small fraction of their activities and functions performed by the respondent Association, would not matter. An overall and holistic view of the functions and activities, including the primary function(s), should be taken into consideration.
The court added that the factums highlighted by the appellant are not sufficient to evince that the respondent’s formation and functioning are under the control and management of the government or that its objects and purpose in Memorandum of Association enable one to categorize its operation as a state function.
The court did not find any merit in the present appeal and dismissed it accordingly.
Case title: Kishor Madhukar Pinglikar v/s Automotive Research Association of India
Citation: SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (C) NO. 6637 OF 2019