Can your car be termed as public space? The answer to this question is YES! The Supreme Court of India added to its common view that a car cannot be considered as private place when on road. In the recent judgements of the Supreme Court of India stated that any private car on public road cannot be termed as private space it would be deemed as public space. In this view no activity in a public place will be permitted on a public road in a private car. In other words, smoking that is prohibited in public areas will also be prohibited in a private car on a public road. This also applies to wearing of mask in private car whether a single person is traveling or more, citizens need to follow the rules that are prohibited in public area in their private car also. Because a private car on a public road can be threat to other people on road.


The Supreme Court decision came in the hearing of a Bihar case in which alcohol is prohibited. A group of drunkard men who travelled by car were detained by the state Police and charged in public places for drinking alcohol. Following the trial judge’s accusations, the judges went to the Supreme Court questioning if a private car could be called a public place. The petitioners also argued that the vehicle had no alcohol. In their justification they stated in Jharkhand they have drank alcohol and that they have travelled to Patna, its members, to participate in a meeting of the Rotary Club. The Nawada checkpoint on 25 June 2016 captured them. A maximum sentence of seven days is prescribed by law.

The Supreme Court of India has stated that, in accordance with the Bihar Excise (Amendment) Act, 2016, a private vehicle running on the public roadways of Bihar would be regarded as a public place. The Act outlaws the manufacture, sale, acquisition and use of alcohol in the Bihar state.  However, at the time of arrest this rule was not applicable. After all the arguments the court held that a person consuming drink in another state may not be liable under Section 52(a) unless the alcohol has been consumed on the territory of the State of Bihar. The Judicial Bench further held that though the public has no access to the private car, they have the chance to approach the private car in a public area.

It was stated by the Supreme Court of India that a personal car on a roadway might be regarded as a “public space.” The ruling was delivered in an appeal against a judgement of the Patna High Court. According to Section 53(a) of the Bihar Excise Act 2016, the applicants were charged with drinking in a private car. The complainants received a charge.


The High Court of Delhi stated in one of the cases that it is mandatory to wear mask in a private vehicle even if a single person is travelling. In the Covid times there are possibilities that the car occupant may get exposed to the outside world and get infected by the virus.

The judge said, while examining the different circumstances under which a passenger in a car could become exposed to and exposed to the virus, that person may have visited a market, or workplace or hospital or busy road before entering the car or vehicle, stop at a traffic signal and roll the window, other occupants may exist in that vehicle before that stage and after that phase. Justice Singh adds that the word ‘public space’ cannot be put into stone uniformly. Depending on the circumstances, it was defined variously in different acts.

She stated in the current case, the extent of the word in the context of the pandemic must be understood. “It is possible to expose an occupant to the outside world while sitting alone in the car. Thus, it is not possible to state that the car would not be a public location just because he is travelling alone in a car.”


Both these judgements clarified that a private car can be deemed as public vehicle. When a person travelling from a public vehicle he needs to follow all the rules that are required to follow by him when he is in a public space. The judgements were of different State and in both the judgements the judge held that a private car is public space. In the first judgement as drinking is prohibited in Bihar therefore the person travelling from another state cannot drink and enter the territory of Bihar.

The second judgement was made due to the rules that are required to be followed by a citizen during this pandemic. A person has to compulsory wear mask and thus when is traveling in a car although a single traveler he needs to follow all the rules and regulations.

Article By: Paridhi Agrawal



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