The Bombay HC had been contemplating over a plea submitted by the Bombay lawyers to allow them to travel in Mumbai local trains for attending physical hearings. The Mumbai local trains are considered to be the lifeline of the city that never sleeps and is the means of transport for the masses. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mumbai locals have been closed which has posed as a great difficulty for the Mumbaikars who still have to go to work. One segment of professionals who were really plagued with this predicament was the Mumbai lawyers who submitted a plea in this regard to the Bombay HC.
On Tuesday, i.e. September 15th, 2020, the Bombay HC directed the High Court’s registry and issue a day pass to travel in the Mumbai Local Train to any Advocate who would be attending a physical hearing. The State Government and the Union have also assented to the same. However, the court has passed the order only on an experimental basis.
A batch of PILs on the same was filed by Advocates Chirag Chanani, Sagar Sahani, Nitin Patil, and Ashley Kusher. The matter was heard by a division bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice Dipankar Datta and Hon’ble Justice GS Kulkarni. The verdict of allotting the day pass was not a quick one. In the previous hearing, issuance of e-passes to lawyers on an experimental basis was first suggested by the HC. This was done after it was informed to the court that the lawyers had great difficulties attending physical hearings as their only means of transportation was local trains.
The current request was also asserted on an experimental basis by the advocate General of Maharashtra AA Kumbhakoni as well as the Additional Solicitor General of India Anil Singh. The AG had also drafted a brief note of arrangements for such lawyers and placed it on record. This note lists the steps that would be essential for an advocate to get a certificate from the Registrar, and then the Railway authorities.
For this note, the Additional Solicitor General had also taken the view and instructions from the railways. He also noted that the railways were also on board.
After the assent of the court, this arrangement would start from September 2020. An order was passed for the same, which reads:
“i. the concerned advocate who intends to physically appear before the Benches of this court at its principal seat at Mumbai shall apply to the designated Registrar of the High Court seeking a day’s pass relating to the particular date only on which his/her matter is listed for hearing before one of the four benches of this HC
ii. The designated Registrar only after confirming the correctness of the clam so made in the application in terms of the present arrangement via email will issue a certification of the requirement for a particular day to the concerned advocate”
There were several other guidelines stipulated as well.