Information gathered from social media cannot be part of pleadings in PIL: Bombay High Court [28.11.2023]

Information gathered from social media cannot be part of the pleadings in a public interest litigation, the Bombay High Court said on Tuesday while hearing a petition claiming that 1,500 to 2,000 people lose their lives in unsafe water bodies in Maharashtra every year.

A division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor refused to hear a PIL filed by advocate Ajitsingh Ghorpade seeking a direction to the Maharashtra government to take measures to safeguard waterfalls and water bodies in the state.

Ghorpade's lawyer Manindra Pandey claimed that around 1,500 to 2000 persons lose their lives at such unsafe waterfalls and water bodies every year, and the bench sought to know from where the petitioner had got the information on the deaths.

Pandey then said they had procured the information from newspapers and social media posts.

The court then said that the petition was vague and did not contain many details.

"Information gathered from social media cannot be part of pleadings in a PIL. You (petitioner) cannot be so irresponsible while filing PILs. You are wasting judicial time," CJ Upadhyaya said.

The bench noted that such petitions could not be entertained as it was a "sheer wastage" of time.

"Somebody goes for a picnic and accidentally drowns, therefore a PIL? Someone drowns in an accident, how is it a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21 (equality and life)," the court said.

Pandey then said that the state government should be directed to take steps to ensure the safety and protection of people who visit such water bodies and waterfalls.

The bench, however, noted that most of the accidents were because of "reckless acts".

"What do you expect from the Maharashtra government? Can each and every waterfall and water body be manned by the police?" the bench asked.

To this, the lawyer pointed out that many times when there is a drowning accident, there is no rescue team, because of which the body of the victim is recovered two to three days later.

The court then sought to know if the petitioner had visited any such waterfall or water body or if he had ascertained which one was more dangerous or unsafe.

The bench asked the petitioner to withdraw the PIL and said he could file a "better" PIL with proper details.

The petitioner agreed and withdrew the petition.

29 Nov 2023