HC seeks State, Centre's reply on plea to allow lawyers to travel by Mumbai locals
MUMBAI: Bombay HC on Tuesday sought the State and Central governments’ replies on a public interest litigation to include lawyers in the list of persons allowed to travel by local trains in Mumbai during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A bench of Justices Amjad Sayed and Makarand Karnik, via video-conference, heard a public interest litigation filed by three advocates – Chirag Chanani, Vinay Kumar and Sumit Khanna- seeking directions to hold and declare that the services rendered by a lawyer is essential service and to include lawyers in the list of persons entitled to travel in special local trains run during the pandemic.
Their advocate Shyam Dewani argued that even municipal school teachers and contractual staff employed by BMC are included in the list. He also said large number of advocates live in the suburbs. “In a city like Mumbai it is impossible to attend office and courts without services of the local trains, ” he added. BMC’s advocate pointed out that municipal school teachers and contract staff are on Covid-19 duty.
Government pleader Poornima Kantharia, with assistant GP Jyoti Chavan, said in today’s situation even other staff, including of State government, are still not allowed on the trains. “Court is functioning through video-conference. The court staff is also coming to office on their own. They (lawyers) can make their own arrangements. They can move with private vehicles,” said Kantharia. She also said “its an herculean task to include staff of High Court and the government pleader’s office in the list.”
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh said on the request of the State government limited trains are permitted at limited stations to assist essential services such as municipal and hospital staff.
The judges seeking replies of the State and Centre adjourned the hearing to two weeks. Dewani urged for an earlier date but the judges declined. Justice Sayed said, “We don’t see any urgency. This is going on for the last three months. As it is the courts are functioning in a restricted manner.”