Bombay HC asks Maharashtra govt to consider allowing lawyers to travel by local trains

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered the Maharashtra government to consider the representation made by a few lawyers seeking permission to travel in city's local trains and to categorise their services under the essential category.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar issued the directive after it was informed that lawyers could not be allowed to travel in local trains.

The state, through an affidavit, informed the judges that it could not allow lawyers to commute in the local trains as it is running limited services in view of the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown.

"Lawyers cannot be permitted to travel in the local trains as we have limited the number of trains and also the passengers as a precautionary measure, to avoid transmission of the virus. These restrictions have been brought in order to prevent overcrowding and maintain social distancing," the state contended, adding, "Thus, lawyers cannot claim any legal right to use trains."

The judges were hearing a clutch of petitions filed by several lawyers seeking categorisation of their services under essential services, which are exempted from the lockdown rules.

The advocates claimed to have been facing numerous difficulties in reaching courts amid the lockdown, as transport services are yet to be made fully functional. They argued that most of them live in the suburbs and reaching courts is problematic.

At this, the state pointed out that there were no restrictions on use of private vehicles. "There are only restrictions on the number of passengers to travel in a vehicle. Thus, these lawyers can commute in their personal vehicles but by complying with other safety precautions such as wearing masks etc.," the state submitted.

Having heard the contentions, the bench, while adjourning the matter for a week, also ordered the state government to consider the representation of the lawyers seeking permission to travel in local trains.

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