Public Order – UPSC Prelims

What is Public Order?
  • Public order is normally equated with public peace and safety.
  • Public order is one of the three grounds on which the state can restrict freedom of religion.
  • Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees to all persons the right to freedom and conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.
  • Public order is also one of the grounds to restrict free speech and other fundamental rights.
  • According to State List (List 2) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the power to legislate on aspects of public order rests with the states.
How has Public order been Interpreted by Courts?
  • What affects public order is contextual and is determined by the state.
  • However, the courts have broadly interpreted it to mean something that affects the community at large and not a few individuals.
  • In Ram Manohar Lohia vs State of Bihar (1965), the Supreme Court held that in the case of ‘public order’, the community or the public at large have to be affected by a particular action.
  • The contravention of law ( to do something that is forbidden by the law or rule ) always affects order but before it can be said to affect public order, it must affect the community or the public at large.
  • One has to imagine three concentric circles, the largest representing ‘law and order’, the next representing ‘public order’ and the smallest representing ‘security of State’.
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