Mumbai: HC asks Maha govt about permitting local train travel for lawyers

The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra government if lawyers in the city could be permitted to use the suburban trains amid the current restrictions imposed on travel in public transport.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa seeking permission for lawyers to use local trains and metro rail services to commute to courts and their offices.

The bench said since lawyers were currently not permitted to use local trains, many of them were unable to reach their offices for work or courts for hearings. This was adding to the existing pendency of cases in courts.

At present, the Bombay High Court and most of the subordinate courts are hearing urgent cases through a video-conferencing interface.

In some cases, however, lawyers are permitted to appear physically in court and such proceedings are simultaneously broadcast through the video-conferencing interface as well.

The bench further said that a committee of the High Court was scheduled to meet on July 1 to decide whether to resume physical hearings in the High Court and subordinate courts in the state.

By July 1, the state must let the committee know whether or not lawyers would be permitted to travel to work by local trains, the bench said.

"Pendency is piling up. If lawyers come to court, we can hear some matters. Else, a year later the pendency will be so high that even if we appoint 100 judges it will not be enough," the High Court said.

"In the mornings, while coming to court we see many trains are running, why can't the state consider letting lawyers travel by these trains?" the bench said.

The court will hear the above PIL and another plea filed by lawyer Chirag Chanani next on July 3.

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