Order of Externment and infringement on Fundamental Rights – UPSC GS2

Context: The Supreme Court has held that authorities can pass an order of externment against a person only under extraordinary circumstances.
What is the Order of Externment?
  • A system of preventing people from entering into a particular place for a certain period, due to their ability to affect that place’s conditions by criminal activity, as exhibited by their prior conduct, is known as externment.
  • An order of externment imposes a restraint on the person against whom the order is made from entering a particular area.
  • The provisions for providing the power of externment to the concerned authorities can be found in many statutes such as The Maharashtra Police Act (MPA) 1951, Punjab Security of State Act 1953, and Assam Maintenance of Public Order Act 1947, Karnataka Police Act etc.
What is the Need of Order of Externment?
  • To maintain law and order in society.
  • To ensure restrictions on criminal acts.
What is the Supreme Court Observation on Order of Externment?
  • The Supreme Court observed that externment is not an ordinary measure and it must be resorted to sparingly and in extraordinary circumstances.
  • The effect of the order of externment is of depriving a citizen of his fundamental right of free movement throughout the territory of India.
  • There is even a possibility that an order of externment would deprive a person of his livelihood.
  • The discretion should be used “very sparingly” as it deprives a person of his or her right of free movement in the country.
How Court Relates the Case with Fundamental right?
  • Under clause (d) of Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India, there is a fundamental right conferred on the citizens to move freely throughout the territory of India.
  • In view of clause (5) of Article 19, the State is empowered to make a law enabling the imposition of reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by clause (d).
  • An order of externment imposes a restraint on the person against whom the order is made from entering a particular area.
  • Thus, such orders infringe the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(d).
Allahabad High Court Observation on Externment:
  • In 2021, Allahabad High Court has quashed an externment order and observed that “An order of externment is a serious inroad on a citizen’s liberty.”
  • The court observed that right to reputation is unquestionably a facet of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution as affirmed by the apex court in many precedents.