Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said the Maharashtra government needed to come up with a way to allow common people to use the public transport system in Mumbai as people are losing jobs, while hearing a plea by lawyers seeking permission to board suburban trains.
The court asked the state government to consider opening up public transport, including local trains and buses, in a phased manner to ensure people from all walks of life are not denied the opportunity to earn their livelihood.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni was hearing public interest litigations (PIL) filed by the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (BCMG), through senior advocate Milind Sathe and advocate Uday Warunjikar, seeking directions to the state government to consider practicing advocates as essential service providers and permit them to travel by local trains to attend hearings at trial courts.
However, during the hearing, the bench suggested that lawyers should not only look after their own needs, but also of those from other sectors who are “starving” as they are deprived of their jobs.
The court also asked the petitioner to share suggestions with the state government so that it can consider them and take a decision by October 5. The court said this after fixing the next date of hearing on October 6.
Meanwhile, state counsel Purnima Kantharia informed the court that even today, with a limited number of persons allowed to travel by local trains, the situation was getting worse as trains were crowded and allowing more passengers might cause problems in view of the Coronavirus pandemic situation.
Even though the court was of the view allowing only lawyers to travel by train can be biased, it also suggested that the trial courts could start functioning in the afternoon from 2pm, as the trains were packed during peak hours.
Justice Datta also said that, “We have to think of ways on how to overcome the situation without it becoming similar to that of Kerala, where after Onam festival, the Covid cases have increased to over 120 per cent.” The bench suggested the state to devise a formula so that common people can safely use public transport like trains and buses.