The Maharashtra government on Monday told the Bombay High Court that it was in favour of allowing all lawyers to travel in local trains in Mumbai if they use the service for professional purposes only, and do not misuse the permission.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni also told a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni that the state had decided to increase the number of local trains currently operating amid the lockdown and to permit all women passengers to use local train services during non-peak hours.
In view of the COVID-19 outbreak, local trains are currently being operated only for essential services staff and government employees.
The state's submission was in compliance with a previous order of the high court.
Last month, the HC asked the state to permit lawyers who had physical hearings in the Bombay High Court to travel to court by local trains. It had also said that with several places of work opening up, the state needed to formulate a way for citizens to begin using the trains while adhering to the coronavirus safeguards.
On Monday, Kumbhakoni said the state had already conveyed to the railways about the government's decision to allow all women to use the local trains and the same should begin soon.
He said a meeting was scheduled with the bar council of Maharashtra later this week to consider the request of lawyers for the use use of trains.
"We are in favour of allowing lawyers to travel by local trains for professional work, on the condition that they do not misuse it," Kumbhakoni said.
The bench then suggested that the state must also consider allowing people from all sectors to use the trains while ensuring that COVID-19 safeguards were followed.
"The opening up of services and offices has to correspond with the transport services...someone whose sector has opened up must be allowed to travel," it said.
The court was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations and applications filed by lawyers, seeking that they be considered as essential service providers and permitted to travel by local trains for court hearings and related work.