Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Tuesday said there was a surge in mob lynchings because of fake messages on social media, and urged citizens to not fall prey to rumours.

“The blatant reliance on social media needs to be checked by the citizens themselves to ensure peace and order in the society,” Misra said, according to Bar and Bench. He was delivering the presidential address at a function organised by the International Law Association in Delhi. “Please don’t misunderstand me because I have authored the judgement, there is a recent surge in mob lynching based on the viral text on the social media and this leads to mobocracy and loss of life, in certain cases.”

Misra also said that citizens need to be more responsible and filter the information before relying and acting upon them to ensure a fair trial. “Indian media houses must introspect and develop a sense of responsibility and maturity,” he said, according to PTI.

He also stressed that freedom of press is the “mother of all liberties” in a democratic society and that media should have its own guidelines for self-regulation. “I am of the firm belief that there should be no guidelines [for the media],” he said. “Nothing can serve better than individual or collective guidelines of the press. There should not be any imposition, but there should be some kind of self-restriction.”

Misra was referring to a spate of mob lynchings that has claimed over 20 lives in Maharashtra, Tripura, Assam, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka since March. In most of the cases, the mobs seem to have been incited byWhatsApp videos and messages asking people to beware of child kidnappers.

Last week, a Supreme Court bench headed by Misra had told Parliament to consider creating a new penal provision to deal with incidents of vigilantism, saying that mobocracy cannot be allowed in society. “No citizen can take law into his hands nor become law unto himself,” the court said, decrying cases of lynching and cow vigilantism.