Part II of the Indian Constitution under Article 5, deals with the concept of Indian Citizenship. It defines various categories of Indian Citizenship at the commencement of Indian Constitution. Can an incorporated company be regarded as a citizen of India under the provisions of Part II of the Indian Constitution?
Honourable Supreme Court of India in State Trading Corporation v. CTO, AIR 1963 SC 1811 held that, the corporation was not a citizen and it opined that, the Part II of the Indian Constitution deals only with the citizenship of natural persons and clearly excludes a company, association or a body of individuals.
However, in RC Cooper v. Union of India, AIR 1970 SC 564 Honourable Supreme Court of India diluted its previous rigorous attitude towards the corporations and companies and held that, the petition of the incorporation challenging the violation of fundamental right is maintainable.
Subsequently, in Bennet, Column & Co v. Union of India, AIR 1977 SC 106 Honourable Supreme Court of India held that, the fundamental rights of the readers, newspaper editors, and shareholders were badly affected by the Newsprint Control Order, 1972. Said Order badly affected the fundamental rights of the newspaper companies, whose aim was freedom of speech.
In the light of above mentioned cases decided by Honourable Supreme Court of India, it is now settled that, even an incorporated company can be regarded as a citizen of India.