The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the state government to decide expeditiously by August 4 representations made by lawyers and the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa seeking to include lawyers and their staff on the list of persons rendering essential services and allow to travel in special local trains during the pandemic.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Sarang V Kotwal heard, through video-conference, a PIL that claimed several lawyers did not own private vehicles and it became difficult for them to commute to the court and so they should be included on the list of persons entitled to travel in special local trains and declared as rendering essential service.
A clutch of other PILs also sought directions to the state to allow lawyers to travel by suburban local trains during the pandemic as they provide essential services.
The state government last week had informed the high court that it could not allow lawyers to travel by suburban local trains as it had restricted both the number of trains and passengers as a part of the measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
‘“We are of the considered opinion that the state must apply its mind and take an informed decision with regard to the concerns voiced by the advocates as well as their staff. The state must not be ignorant that access to justice is now recognised as a fundamental right and advocates and their staff constitute an integral part of the entire system, which is dedicated to the delivery of justice,” the Bench said.
Directing the state to consider and decide all representations by lawyers and their organisations before it by Tuesday, the court has posted further hearing on the pleas to August 7.
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