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No Discrimination Against Lawyers If they are not allowed Travel by Local Train; State Tells Bombay HC [READ AFFIDAVIT]

By Manthan Pandit      24 July, 2020 03:07 PM      0 Comments
No Discrimination Against Lawyers Bombay HC

The state government has submitted in an affidavit to the Bombay High Court that lawyers cannot sue for discrimination if they are not permitted to ride in local trains and buses unlike staff of the advocate general's office or government pleader's office workers.

Petitioners argued that lawyers in various courts in Mumbai and suburbs are barred from local train traffic because their practice is not included in the list of critical services specified in the circular issued by the office of the Divisional Railway Manager.

Asserting that the said PIL is not maintainable and tenable in law, the 19-page affidavit states-

"So far as Mumbai and MMR region is concerned, at least with effect from June 4, 2020, there are no travel restrictions in place preventing traveling in a single-vehicle and following precautionary measures such as wearing masks, etc. Resultantly I say that the advocates can travel by private vehicle if they either want to visit their offices or visit any court premises for attending the hearing or for the purpose of filing matters, physical or otherwise.

I, therefore, say that, thus, and all the advocates can carry on their profession and there is no restriction on it, much less unreasonable restrictions and certainly not a total ban or prohibition. I say that the state government has not imposed any hindrance in carrying on the legal profession by advocates. I thus say that neither any fundamental right nor any legal right of the petitioners are being infringed so as to give rise to filing of the present petition. On this ground alone, the present petition deserves to be dismissed."

Referring to the situation in Maharashtra with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr.Nimbalkar claimed in the affidavit that local transport, such as buses and local trains, is permitted to travel with a limited number of passengers in order to avoid any possibility of overcrowding, especially in trains and subsequent Covid-19 spread.

In addition to answering the petitioners' concerns regarding discrimination caused to them as court employees and staff of the Advocate General's office and staff of the Government Pleader 's office are required to move by local trains, the State replied-

"Petitioners have alleged discrimination being caused to them since the staff of Government Pleader's office, the office of Advocate General as well as the staff of the High Court are being permitted to travel by local train. It is alleged that the respondents are unreasonably classifying between Government Pleaders, who themselves are lawyers who undertake private practice like the petitioners.

In this regard, it is humbly submitted that the State Government has allowed the staff of the aforesaid three offices who are not themselves lawyers or advocates. It is not that Government Pleaders who are advocates and lawyers themselves are allowed to travel by local trains. In my humble submission, there cannot be any comparison between the staff of the aforesaid three offices on one side and lawyers/advocates on the other side as the aforesaid classes are completely different and therefore the petitioners cannot allege discrimination by making the aforesaid allegations or otherwise "

In addition, referring to the order of 10th July 2020, passed by another bench in a petition with identical prayers, the State reiterated what the Court had noted, namely that, in compliance with the Maharashtra Essential Services Act, 2017, it is the exclusive right of the State Legislature to legislate on which services should be included in essential services.

Advocate Shyam Dewani appeared for the petitioners, seeking the time of one week to file a rejoinder. The Court approved the appeal and, on 31st July 2020, placed the matter for hearing.




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