The Maharashtra government has allowed lawyers registered with the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa and registered court clerks to travel by local trains on an experimental basis for a month, till November 23. But railway authorities need to give approval and issue a formal order before lawyers can start traveling by locals.
The government order comes in the backdrop of orders passed by Bombay high court while hearing a PIL and related pleas by lawyers to include them in the list of essential service providers who have been allowed to use train services.
However, the state permission to lawyers comes with a list of riders. Lawyers and registered clerks can travel only during non-peak hours, which means up to 8 am or from 11 am to 4 pm and after 7 pm. They will have to buy tickets before every journey as monthly passes will not be issued. The facility is only for professional work and a badge provided by the Bar council will have to be worn to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to identify them. “Anybody who violates terms and conditions subject to which the facility has been made available will be liable for strict disciplinary action at the hands of the Bombay high court or by the Bar Council,” said the order.
So far, the state government has only allowed essential service providers to travel in local trains. Women commuters were the latest to be allowed on Wednesday, but they have been allowed to travel only during non-peak hours.
The Bombay HC has given the government time till October 29 to decide on allowing people from all sectors to avail of local train services. In their order, on October 19, the judges noted that while the government has been opening up different sectors as part of Mission Begin Again, there has been no corresponding increase in the category of service providers that could avail of the increased services. “Apart from lady passengers, the government may consider the desirability of allowing daily wagers, vendors, shop employees, the staff of hotels and restaurants, cinema halls, multiplex, and other needy people to avail of local train services during nonpeak hours,” the court had said.
In a separate order, the state government has also allowed private security guards to wear a uniform and with a valid ID to travel in local trains. They can travel as per their work timings; no restrictions have been put on their travel.