MUMBAI: State government on Friday told Bombay high court it had rejected requests of lawyers to board local trains here for now. When Covid-19 situation improves, it will be “more than eager and happy” to consider permitting them on priority.
“Maintenance and improvement of public health has to rank highest, particularly when not only the state but the world is facing the worst crisis due to Covid-19,” said the disaster management (relief & rehabilitation) department secretary’s order on August 5. On August 2, around 4.3 lakh of the state population were affected by Covid-19 and there were 15,316 deaths.
The order was submitted to a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Ajay Gadkari by advocate-general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and assistant government pleader Jyoti Chavan.
The order said considering that lawyers constitute an integral part of the judicial system, the state had not imposed restrictions on them. Also, decisions are taken which may cause great inconvenience to various sections of citizens inconvenience. “Balancing maintenance of public health and inconvenience, it does not require recording of reasons to conclude inconvenience so caused must pave way to maintenance of public health of citizenry,” it added.
It said due to an extraordinary situation in Mumbai and Mumbai metropolitan region, providing travel to frontline workers/staff had been the topmost priority of the state government. Regarding other offices of nationalized banks, GST, customs, department of post, Mumbai Port Trust and public sector undertakings, they are required as they help in bringing the economy, worst hit by Covid-19, back to normal, it added.
It noted that representations have not given details of matters dismissed due to nonappearance of advocates or resulted in prejudice to any litigant or caused hindrance to working of court or proceedings. It added that increase in frequency of trains will not redress the issue of overcrowding, especially to strictly observe social distancing.
The judges adjourned the hearing but the parties can mention the matter for further hearing.