A journal association, the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, has filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court seeking directions to the Maharashtra Government to categorise journalists as essential workers and allow local train travel. The plea filed through Advocate Sudha Dwivedi states that journalists have already been declared as front-line workers in twelve states and Maharashtra Government's inaction in doing the same suffers from the doctrine of reasonableness.
The petition states that citizens under lockdown became more reliant on journalists and news media for accurate information during the pandemic and this would include disseminating information on the Government's policies on travel, vaccination, medical supplies etc.
The association states it is necessary for them to be treated as front line workers. The petition highlights the fact that several journalists come from modest backgrounds and live in Mumbai sub-urbs. Due to Mumbai's linear character, the suburban train services play a vital role in facilitating the north-south movement of the city's workforce, enabling inter-district travel, the plea states. It adds as ‘saddening’ that a decision is still not taken on local train travel of journalists despite a representation to the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in May, 2021.
The petitioner, therefore, prayed that the Hon'ble Court may be pleased to direct the Respondents to 'allow the journalists and other staff in the media industry, especially in the City of Mumbai, to avail the suburban train services', more popularly called the Mumbai Local Train services.
“Without even thinking of diminishing the importance of the frontline workers, such as health-care, police, clean-up related personnel amongst others, the journalists and media in general, have played equally important role to which one may not turn Nelson's eye. This must be the reason as to why, to the best of the petitioner's knowledge, 12 States so far have already declared journalists as ‘frontline workers’,” the petition read.