Mumbai: The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that it could not let lawyers travel by the local trains as it had to restrict the number of trains and passengers as a safety measure to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The state government in an affidavit had submitted that restrictions on local trains would be implemented to curb overcrowding and maintain social distance and the lawyers could not state any legal right to use them.
The state government was responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and other applications filed by the lawyers in the HC asking to be allowed to use the local train to travel to court amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its affidavit, the state government mentioned that there were no restrictions on usage of personal vehicles, except for the number of passengers in a vehicle and thus lawyers can commute to court in private vehicles as long as they took the necessary safety precautions.
A bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar on Tuesday heard through a video-conference that several lawyers did not have a private vehicle and it would be difficult for them to travel to court, so they should be included on the list of people entitled to travel in local trains as they are rendering essential service.
The petitioners claim that the court staff and staff of government pleaders offices were included in the list of people eligible to travel by local train for rendering essential services and the lawyers have been discriminated by the state.
The state in its affidavit refutes this and said there is no discrimination as only government pleaders staffs were allowed to travel by local trains and government pleaders have no such permission.
The court has pushed this for further hearing on July 31 and asked a response from the petitioners on the state’s affidavit within a week.