Law and Order & Public Order; Distinction Between

The Supreme Court in Pushker Mukherjee Vs. State of West Bengal, AIR 1970 SC 852 where the distinction between ‘law and order’ and ‘public order’ has been clearly laid down.

Distinction between ‘law and order’ and ‘public order’

The Court observed as follows :

  • Does the expression “public order” take in every kind of infraction of order or only some categories thereof ?
  • It is manifest that every act of assault or injury to specific persons does not lead to public disorder.
  • When two people quarrel and fight and assault each other inside a house or in a street, it may be said that there is disorder but not public disorder.
  • Such cases are dealt with under the powers vested in the executive authorities under the provisions of ordinary criminal law but the culprits cannot be detained on the ground that they were disturbing public order.
  • The contravention of any law always affects order but before it can be said to affect public order, it must affect the community or the public at large.
  • In this connection we must draw a line of demarcation between serious and aggravated forms of disorder which directly affect the community or injure the public interest and the relatively minor breaches of peace of a purely local significance which primarily injure specific individuals and only in a secondary sense public interest.
  • A mere disturbance of law and order leading to disorder is thus not necessarily sufficient for action under the Preventive Detention Act but a disturbance which will affect public order comes within the scope of the Act.

The above case also referred in the latest judgment of the Gujarat High Court in Mohmad Shaffiq @ Mohmad Yusuf Shaikh Vs. State of Gujarat dated 3 May, 2016 authored by Justice A.J. Desai.

This case under Section 3(2) of the Gujarat Prevention of Anti Social Activities Act, 1985 by detaining the detenue as a “dangerous person” as defined under Section 2(c) of the Act.