Bombay HC seeks centre's response to PIL seeking inclusion of lawyers in essential services

ANI Mumbai, Maharashtra Jul 07, 2020, 07.40 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( ANI )

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A division bench of Justice AA Sayed and Justice MS Karnik asked the State and Central government to file their affidavits on the matter within a period of two weeks

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Centre and Maharashtra government on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to declare the services rendered by lawyers as "essential services" amid the coronavirus lockdown.

A division bench of Justice AA Sayed and Justice MS Karnik asked the State and Central government to file their affidavits on the matter within a period of two weeks.

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The PIL, filed by a group of three lawyers advocates Chirag Chanani, Sumit Khanna, and Vinay Kumar, sought to declare the services rendered by lawyers as "essential services" to enable them to travel by local trains.

The plea asked why the authorities concerned had not included lawyers in the list of essential service categories, which have been permitted to travel by local train for performing their duties, despite legal service being considered to be essential services.

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Advocate Shyam Dewani, representing the three lawyers, submitted before the high court that the practicing lawyers are residing in suburban localities of Mumbai city but having their places of work in South Mumbai.

"So in connection with attending their offices and various courts in Mumbai city, they are required to travel a lot, however, they are being restricted from commuting by local train, as the legal services rendered by lawyers are not considered as essential services by the circular issued by the Divisional Railway Managers office," the plea said.

It said that there is no reason to deprive them of using local trains when they are required to do the same to attend the courts and render their services in assisting the cause of justice.

The plea said that the petitioners do not have the facilities of private vehicles and now that physical working of courts, etc have started, they are not in a position to effectively render assistance to the cause of justice.

"Due to a lack of infrastructure, matters in the subordinate courts are being taken up through physical appearances, and for that purpose members of the judiciary and staff of courts are permitted to travel through local trains but most of the lawyers practicing in those courts, do not have facilities at their command to travel and earn their livelihood," the plea said.