The Maharashtra government on Monday told the Bombay High Court that it has decided to increase the number of local trains and all lawyers may use them but only for professional reasons, to prevent crowding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni was hearing a couple of public interest litigations stating that services rendered by advocates were essential services. Hence, lawyers should be included in the list of essential staff permitted to travel on special suburban/local trains.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said the State is in favour of allowing all lawyers to travel in local trains but only for professional purposes. He also said that currently all women were being allowed to use the trains during non-peak hours.
He said a meeting was scheduled with the Bar council of Maharashtra later this week to look into the request made by the lawyers.
The court then said the State must also think of allowing people from all sectors and walks of life to use the trains while ensuring all COVID-19 safeguards were followed.
The Bench said, “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.”
On October 9, Mr. Kumbhakoni had said the State did not have any objection to increase the frequency of local trains and that even the general public could use the services provided they wore masks and followed social distancing norms.
On September 15, the A-G had said advocates who need to be present in court could obtain a certificate from the Registrar concerned and get railway travel passes from September 18 till October 7 on an experimental basis.