Is the government liable for the torts committed by its servants?
The point as to how far the State was liable in tort first directly arose before the Supreme Court in State of Rajasthan v. Vidyawati. In this case, the Supreme Court of India held the State of Rajasthan vicariously liable for the tort committed by its servant but later the Supreme Court in its subsequent decision in Kasturi Lal and Ralia Ram v. State of U.P. upheld the theory of sovereign immunity, rejecting the plea of vicarious liability of the State for the tort committed by its servant. The Court held that an action would not lie against the State Government for any wrong done by an officer of the Government in the discharge of his official duty which falls in the category of the exercise of the sovereign functions of State. Although the decision of the Supreme Court in Kasturilal’s case is yet to overruled, subsequent decisions of the court have greatly undermined its authority and attenuated the sphere of sovereign immunity.