The Maharashtra government on Friday informed the Bombay High Court that it has rejected the representations made by a few lawyers seeking permission to travel in local trains amid the lockdown.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Ajay Gadkari was further informed that the state has also turned down the request by lawyers to exempt legal services from the lockdown rules and declare them as essential services.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, representing the state government, told the judges that on August 5, the state's disaster management and rehabilitation unit chief had passed an order stating that lawyers could not be allowed to travel in local trains as on date. The authority also refused to categorise legal services as essential.
In its order, the authority said, "The restrictions on traveling in local trains were brought in to ensure social distancing and avoid overcrowding. Initially, the services were made available for essential service providers only, but later on, other members of the public, who are helping to normalise the economy, were allowed to travel in the local trains."
To the contention of the lawyers that they get late in reaching the courts, the authority in its order noted that no specific data has been placed on record showing that cases (of these lawyers) got dismissed because of them reaching late to the court.
The AG, however, assured the bench that as and when, the situation improves, the state would consider the issue of allowing lawyers in local trains, on a priority basis.
The bench was dealing with a clutch of public interest litigations (PILs) filed by several lawyers, saying that in the absence of permission to use local trains, lawyers and their staff were unable to reach courts.