Tuesday, 19 October 2021

HC asks Maharashtra government why fully vaccinated citizens are not allowed to travel by Mumbai local train

HC asks the Maharashtra government why fully vaccinated citizens are not allowed to travel by Mumbai local train.

On Monday, the Bombay high court (HC) asked the Maharashtra government to review setting up a dedicated ticketing counter at railways stations to provide identity cards. Travel passes to all those who are fully vaccinated.

On Monday, the Bombay high court asked the Maharashtra government to think about counters issuing travel passes and identity cards to all fully vaccinated at railways stations.

After the state informed the High court bench that it had decided to issue monthly, quarterly, and six-monthly railway passes to lawyers only after the bar associations concerned issuing certificates confirming that the lawyer had been vaccinating with the double dose.

Fit to travel by locals, the proposal was produced after the Maharashtra government informed the bench that it had decided to provide monthly, quarterly, and six-monthly railway passes to lawyers only after the bar associations concerned giving Covid-19 protocols.

While hearing the PIL filed by various lawyer groups, the court sought to know why accessing public transport should be limited to only lawyers. At the same time, all persons who are fully vaccinated are denying. The court holds that other persons also need to go out and earn a living, but due to the restrictions on train travel, they have to opt for a different way of public transport, which are burdened and affected already due to road conditions in traffic.

HC asks the Maharashtra government why fully vaccinated citizens are not allowed to travel by Mumbai local train 1getty image

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The bench of justice, Girish Kulkarni and chief justice Dipankar Datta, while hearing PILs filed by lawyer groups and Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa, was informed by senior counsel Milind Sathe.

They sought limited directions to the state government to consider around 1,000 practicing advocates as essential service providers and allow them to travel by local trains to attend court for other professional work.

While responding to PIL, advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni for the state informed the bench that a meeting of representatives of BCMG, state, and Central governments with railway officials had been holding recently. A tentative formula wherein lawyers wanting to travel by local trains had to approach the bar associations concerned and show their vaccination certificates. The association would issue them a certificate to produce at railway booking offices to secure passes.

Kumbhakoni added that the railway authorities requested a letter from the state disaster management authority (SDMA) recommending this. Still, as the officer was heading by the chief minister, who was slightly reluctant, only frontline health workers and certain government employees were permitted to take local trains at this stage. Kumbhakoni assured the court that efforts were on to avail the letter from CM, who was visiting the flood-affected areas in the state.

After hearing the submissions, the court sought to why people should stay home after being vaccinated.

Observed by the court.

“They are supposed to work and earn the livelihoods. Courts have begun functioning physically, lawyers will go to courts. Railways are cooperating. Let us have a beginning not just for lawyers, but for people from other walks of lives too. Spread the net wide. We are concerned for lawyers and for others as well,”

The bench then asked why the population traveling by buses could not be allowed to travel by trains.

Questioned the bench

“It takes three hours one way to Dahisar [from south Mumbai]. Why is the entire population travelling by road cannot travel by train?”.

The bench further said that there was an urgent need to come out with a plan as it affected the lives and finances of people. Hence, the railways should consider having dedicated counters to verify whether aspiring commuters were fully vaccinated and issue them identity cards.

The court asked the state to inform its decision to access local trains to lawyers and vaccinated persons by Thursday.HC asks the Maharashtra government why fully vaccinated citizens are not allowed to travel by Mumbai local train.

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