During a Tuesday hearing on a petition alleging that 1,500 to 2,000 persons in Maharashtra lose their lives in hazardous water bodies each year, the Bombay High Court ruled that information obtained from social media could not be used in the pleadings in a public interest case.
The Maharashtra government was directed to take action to protect waterfalls and other water bodies in the state, but counsel Ajitsingh Ghorpade filed a PIL, which was dismissed by a division bench consisting of Chief Justice D K Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor.
Manindra Pandey, the attorney representing Ghorpade, said that between 1,500 and 2000 people perish annually at these dangerous waterfalls and bodies of water. The court inquired as to where the petitioner obtained the facts on the fatalities.
Pandey went on to say that social media postings and newspapers were where they found the information.
The court went on to state that the petition lacked specificity and was ambiguous.
“Social media information cannot be used in a PIL’s pleadings. You (the petitioner) cannot file PILs with such reckless abandon. “You’re squandering legal time,” CJ Upadhyaya said.
The judges said that it would be a “sheer wastage” of time to consider such petitions.
“If someone goes on a picnic and inadvertently drowns, is it a PIL? “How is it a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21 (equality and life) when someone drowns in an accident?” the court asked.
Subsequently, Pandey said that the state government need to be instructed to take action in order to guarantee the security and well-being of those who visit these types of water features and waterfalls.
On the other hand, the bench said that “reckless acts” were the cause of the majority of the accidents.
“What are your expectations from the government of Maharashtra? The bench questioned, “Is it possible for the police to man every single waterfall and body of water?”
In response, the attorney emphasized that in many cases of drowning accidents, there is no rescue team present, which is why the victim’s corpse is found two to three days later.
The court then asked if the petitioner had been to any such waterfalls or bodies of water, or if he had determined which was riskier or more hazardous.
The petitioner was directed to drop the PIL by the bench, which also advised him to prepare a “better” PIL with the necessary information.
In agreement, the petitioner withdrew the request.