SC: Private Car on a Public Road is a Public Place

Private car

In a judgment that could have far-reaching consequences, the Supreme Court clarified that a private car travelling on a public road can be deemed as a ‘public place’.

The court has essentially overruled a 1999 Kerala High Court judgment which had said that a private car on a public road would still constitute a private space. The verdict can be interpreted to mean that any activity that is not allowed in a public space, such as smoking, will now not be allowed in a private car on a public road either.

The Supreme Court bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K.M. Joseph said that while the public may not have access to a private vehicle as a matter of right, but it would definitely have the opportunity to approach the vehicle on a public road.

The court further noted that ‘public conveyance’, which was omitted from the 1978 notification that defined public space, was introduced in the 2016 Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act. “The statutory amendment also did away with the difference between public and private conveyance,” the court noted.

The Correspondent Bureau with inputs from agencies

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