Observing that people need to earn their livelihood, the Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra Government to all those who are fully vaccinated to travel by local trains. “Spread your net wide. Not just lawyers but people from all walks of life,” a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni told the State government while hearing a PIL to allow travel for lawyers.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said, at a meeting with the Railways, a formula was worked out to allow lawyers who are vaccinated with one or two doses and depending on age. He said Railways wants a letter from the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) headed by the CM who is touring flood-affected areas. “Immediately we will permit,” assured Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for the Centre.
The Advocate General stated that SDMA was “slightly reluctant” to allow train travel for lawyers as in the first phase. He added, “this time front line health and some government employees are allowed. Even telephone, electric, and other essential services are not allowed.”
The judges pointed out an essential fact that in comparison to previous year, this year many people are vaccinated.
Chief Justice Datta questioned the need of getting vaccines by saying, “What is the benefit of vaccination? Vaccinated persons are not expected to stay home. People have to earn their livelihood.” He further said, although the high court has extended interim orders from time-to-time authorities pass orders which prejudicially affect their clients.
Senior advocate Milind Sathe, for State Bar Council, said there are around 4000 advocates in Mumbai Metropolitan Region and not more than 1000 advocates in Mumbai would require train passes. He also said they will not travel at fixed hours.
The judges questioned if there is a comprehensive plan to allow travel for all who are vaccinated. “This is going to be imperative to work on a comprehensive plan. This suspended position and uncertainty is affecting everyone and some sections of the population to such an extent that there is a burden on the finances,” said Justice Kulkarni.
The judges also referred to the conditions of Mumbai roads which are generally jammed because of traffic.
No final decision has been taken yet reminded the bench, stating that the State will submit its response on a later day in consultation with the Chief Minister who is currently unavailable in Mumbai.