MUMBAI: “Allowing the courts to function normally, as in pre-pandemic days, still appears to be at some distance,’’ said Bombay high court in an order while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by lawyers and also the state bar council, to permit all lawyers to commute by suburban local trains.
“Opening up the doors of the suburban trains for all the lawyers and their registered clerks to attend courts in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) would also not be advisable, lest the numbers rise and the state is unnecessarily burdened with more cases requiring provisions for additional health and medi-care services,” said the HC bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni in a detailed October 9 order, which was uploaded on Monday.
The HC however, noting the “fair stance’’ taken by all lawyers, who addressed the court on the issue had extended the experimental benefit of train travel from October 12-19 to subordinate court lawyers and lawyers’ ‘registered clerks’ who would be required to appear for physical hearing, including remand proceedings.
“Now, it is time for the state to identify employees of other sectors too who could gradually be allowed to avail suburban train services,” said the HC adding that the process may take time and hence “must start in right earnest immediately.”
The HC directed that the “lawyers, whose names appear on the board of a particular court in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region for a particular day, shall be under an obligation to apply for a certificate and a travel pass in the same manner as in the order of September 15.”
The HC said for remand cases, advocates engaged by accused or victims must apply to registrars of magistrates’ court with FIR number and names and their own ID to get certificates to travel by
Last month the HC had granted permission to certain lawyers who have physical hearings before designated benches before the HC to travel by train on special passes.
The HC will hear the PIL again on October 19 “to enable state to and report developments in terms of this order on working out a mechanism for travel by suburban trains by employees of different sectors either by staggering office timings or otherwise.’’
The HC order noted that advocate general Ashutosh “Kumbhakoni ultimately has agreed that with the easing of the lockdown restrictions and opening up of activities in different sectors, it is necessary that there should be a corresponding increase in suburban train services and also that the government, at the highest level, would immediately endeavour to work out a formula in consultation with the railways so as to ensure staggered work timings for different sectors upon taking into confidence all the stakeholders.”
The HC said, “survival in these difficult times has to be the foremost concern” and added, “That the state has been opening up and permitting more and more activities on easing of lockdown restrictions is no doubt encouraging but complacency at any cost has to be avoided.”

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