Lawyers practising in different courts and clerks associated with legal departments can now travel in Mumbai Local any time during the day. In the existing arrangement during Covid-19 pandemic, the railway authorities have allowed travel permission to lawyers and clerks to travel during non-peak hours. They are not permitted to travel between 8 am-11 am and 4 pm-7 pm in Mumbai Local to reduce crowding in what is called the lifeline of the city to reduce the chances of transmission of the novel coronavirus.
The Maharashtra government has now decided to lift the restriction on their travel in the local trains. Maharashtra Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni today informed the division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni of the Bombay High Court that the state government was thinking of allowing lawyers to travel by suburban local trains during peak hours.
On October 22, the Maharashtra government had allowed certain recognised lawyers to take local trains during non-peak hours for professional purposes.
The court has been hearing public interest litigations (PILs) filed by the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (BCMG) and other lawyers seeking directions to the state to consider practising advocates as essential service providers and permit them to travel by local trains to attend hearings in trial courts.
Senior counsel Milind Sathe and lawyer Shyam Dewani, appearing for the petitioners, told the court that since even the Bombay High Court had resumed physical hearings in a limited manner, it was necessary that lawyers be permitted to commute by local trains during peak hours to reach the court that starts functioning at 11 am every day.
The letter issued by the Maharashtra government to the Central and Western Railway states that lawyers and clerks from the Bombay Bar Association, the Advocates' Association of Western India, the Bombay Incorporated Law Society, the Bombay High Court Law Library and the Kirtikar Law Library are permitted to travel on the Mumbai local train "during the course of the entire day, every day, save and except the evening peak hours i.e., 04.00 p.m. to 07.00 p.m."
The railway has forwarded it to the railway board. The number of trains that were running on Central and Harbour railway lines apart from Western railway line is enough to cater to the new demand of lawyers travelling at peak hour.
Shivaji Sutar, the chief public relation officer of the Central Railway said, "In this regard, we have received request letter from state government and we have processed it for getting approval from competent authority."
According to railway, the permission can arrive anytime and the lawyers will be able to travel on local train during peak hour in couple of days.