Bombay High Court

Bombay High Court: The Court in its own motion initiated a Suo motu Public Interest Litigation (“PIL”), based on three newspaper articles that reported the death of two young children by falling and drowning into an uncovered water tank maintained by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (“BMC”). The bench comprising of GS Patel & Kamal Khata, JJ., considered the questions raised in the news reports, and said that the BMC as a civic body entrusted with the carrying out and maintenance of civic works is answerable.


The death of two young children in Wadala, Mumbai, aged 4 and 5 years who died by falling and drowning into a water tank with improper lid that was maintained by the BMC, was reported in various news reports published in Hindustan Times and Deccan Herald. One of the news articles also reported that the Wadala Citizens Forum had been repeatedly complaining to the BMC about the poor condition and potential danger posed by the uncovered water tank.

The BMC in this regard stated that due to budgetary constraints, there was a lack of funds to install a proper cover for the water tank in question.


Perusing the news reports, the Court pointed out that the questions posed by the reports are of public law with respect to “the price of a human life in Mumbai’, and whether the “budgetary constraints” of the BMC is an answer for failure to provide minimal safety precaution during civic works

The Court suggested that the instant matter will raise issues regarding civic responsibility and questions of negligence and financial responsibility, not just for the individual officers of the BMC but also for the Corporation as a body, because these issues affect every local body throughout the State, down to the Gram Panchayat level where any civic body is entrusted with the carrying out and maintenance of civic works in its jurisdiction.

The Court noted that public sector departments like the Railways and Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking have a framework for compensation and a dedicated tribunal in place in cases of accidental injury or death, and stated that it seemed inconceivable that a Municipal Corporation could have no responsibility or liability at all, if it is demonstrated that an accident or a death has been caused due to negligence on the part of the Corporation concerned.

The Court also requested Senior Advocate, Sharan Jagtiani and Advocate, Mayur Khandeparkar to assist the Court as amicus curiae. the Court also passed directions to issue notice to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for its direct involvement in the matter and the Advocate General, Maharashtra.

Lastly, the Court directed the Registry to register a Suo Motu Public Interest Litigation, and the same, to be placed before the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court for their appropriate directions and assignment.

[In re: News reports on the death of 2 young children by drowning water tanks maintained by BMC, 2024 SCC OnLine Bom 1023, Order dated: 04-04-2024]

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