Unlock more local services too, Bombay High Court tells Maharashtra government
BL Soni

The Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, asked the Maharashtra government to consider increasing the frequency of the local trains being run on all the three lines (harbour, central and western) of suburban Mumbai. It said that the authorities must ensure that the trains correspond with the partial lifting of the lockdown.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni noted that currently the state has permitted several sectors to resume. Hence, it is high time the frequency of trains is also increased.

"We are now in partial lockdown. The state has ordered the opening of malls and hotels. Even government offices are working with 100 per cent staff," the judges noted. "Thus, we are of the opinion that the railway services need to correspond with the partial lifting of the lockdown. We believe, if the number of trains is increased, then the problem of overcrowding, as of now, would automatically get resolved," CJ Datta said.

The observations were made while hearing a bunch of PILs initially filed by a group of advocates seeking direction to the state to allow lawyers and even their clerical staff to travel in the local trains.

Notably, the state, pursuant to the orders of CJ Datta, had allowed lawyers to travel in the local trains last month. However, the state, citing the risk of spread of COVID-19, has allowed only lawyers who would have to appear before the four separate benches of the HC, which are hearing matters physically.

During the course of the hearing on Wednesday, the judges noted that the present number of trains is less in comparison to the commuters, resulting in overcrowding.

"Thus, we think that the railways must consider increasing the number of trains on central and harbour lines to 600 and those on the western line must be at least 700," CJ Datta said.

The judges, however, noted that it could only make a suggestion to the authorities and hoped that the same would be considered.

"We are of the considered opinion that our suggestion would not only favor the lawyers and their staff, but also the general public," the judges said.

The bench posted the plea for further hearing on October 9.

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