The Bombay High Court on Wednesday (8th October 2020) while hearing a batch of PILs and a writ petition seeking directions for members of the legal profession and their registered clerks to be included in the category of providers of “essential services” and therefore be entitled to travel by the suburban local trains operated by the Central Railway and the Western Railway, observed that increase in the number of local train services will ameliorate grievance of a large cross-section of the public.
The chart shows that there has been a gradual increase in the number of services from June 2020 onwards. As of October 1, 2020, the Central Railway has been operating 431 services out of 1774 services, which it was operating before lock-down. Similarly, the Western Railway has been operating 512 services out of 1367 services which it operated before the lock-down.
Court also reiterated that not only the concern expressed by the members of the legal profession and their registered clerks to allow them avail of the local train services operated by the Central Railway and Western Railway would be considered but the scope of the PIL petition needs to be expanded to cover personnel of the other sectors too, who would also be similarly interested in availing such services.
The bench opined that “While the State is in the Phase of “Unlock 5”, the concern expressed in these petitions ought to be addressed bearing in mind the hardships and inconvenience face by one and all and not necessarily restricted to the needs of the members of the legal profession”.
“In our considered prima facie view, increase in the frequency of local train services by the Railways could be seen as a reasonable step to cater to the needs of all others who normally travel by train and to ameliorate the grievance of a large cross-section of the public, subject to the condition of requiring all commuters to maintain the prescribed distancing norms”.
“The State has gradually decided to open up more and more facilities like hotels, restaurants, malls, offices in the private sector, etc. and thus there ought to be a corresponding review of the situation with regard to operation local train services and increase in its frequency. We hope and trust that the State shall respond to the suggestion for considering the desirability of proposing to the Railways for an increase in the frequency of the local train services and appropriately instruct Ms. Kantharia”, Court observed.