Bombay HC Dismisses PIL Plea Against Anahita Pandole

On 17th January, 2023, the Bombay High Court dismissed a PIL that challenged the non-inclusion of criminal charges under Section 304 II of the IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) against Anahita Pandole, who was driving the car on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, when it crashed, killing Cyrus Mistry and Jehangir Pandole (seated in the backseat), and injuring herself and her husband (seated next to her), on 4th September, 2022, in Palghar district (Maharashtra).

The PIL was filed by Maharashtra resident Sandesh Jedhe seeking directions to the state police to incorporate Section 304 II (culpable homicide amounting to murder) instead of Section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC against Dr. Pandole. His advocates claimed that Gynaecologist Dr. Anahita Pandole was under the influence of alcohol while she was driving the car. On behalf of Dr. Pandole, a medical report was submitted to the court that she was not under the influence of alcohol/drugs while driving the car that crashed.

The bench of acting Chief Justice S V Gangpurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne remarked that the PIL seemed to be a “publicity interest litigation” and not for public interest at all and imposed cost on the petitioner, adding, “It appears that the petitioner, without a substantive knowledge of the facts, has presented this PIL. When a petition is filed, pleadings are on oath, they cannot be casual and wanton pleadings. The court relies on the pleadings. Even the statements about drunk driving of accused are not supported by any evidence on record. When a petition is to be filed in court, it has to be substantiated by facts. Especially in PILs.”

The bench concluded, “Charges are to be framed (in the case), chargesheet is already filed (by the prosecution). We do not see any public interest involved in the PIL. We find the present PIL to be without substance or merits or cause. We dismiss with costs.”

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