Decide if lawyers can be considered part of essential services: HC to State

The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Maharashtra government to take a call on whether lawyers can be considered a part of essential services.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Sarang Kotwal was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Chirag Chanani and others through advocate Shyam Devani.

The petition said advocates should be included in the list of essential workers and permitted to travel on local trains amid the COVID -19 pandemic. The Bench said, “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 ‘delivery of justice’.”

The plea sought exemption for lawyers and their staff from lockdown restrictions and an order to consider advocates and legal services as a part of “essential services”.

The court said, “Advocates and their staff are presently not being allowed to avail themselves of train services. Disabled thereby, a major section of the advocates have been precluded from participating in whatever physical hearings that are being conducted and in assisting the courts. It was also asserted on behalf of the advocates that not all of them have personal cars and, thus, commuting to the courts in Mumbai is a big problem for them.”

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said 353 of 1,774 trains (as per the normal schedule) are being operated by the Central Railway, while the Western Railway is running 150 of 1,365 train services.

The court said, “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.”

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 9:55:58 PM |

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