Two separate benches of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday issued notices to State, Centre and Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa in two separate proceedings by lawyers seeking the same relief, declaration of services rendered by lawyers as an essential service.
While the bench of Justice AA Sayed and Justice MS Karnik was hearing a PIL filed by Advocate Chirag Chanani and others, the division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Madhav Jamdar heard the writ petition filed by Advocate Imran Shaikh.
The PIL contended that petitioners are lawyers, practicing in various Courts at Mumbai and suburbs and are restricted from commuting by local train and are not considered as essential services by the circular issued by the Divisional Railway Manager's office enumerating the categories of essential services staff permitted to travel by local train.
Advocate Shyam Dewani submitted on behalf of the petitioners that a large number of advocates live in the suburbs and it was almost impossible to attend Courts without local train services. Whereas, GP Poornima Kantharia argued that Courts are functioning through video conferencing and even the court staff is not allowed to travel in locals. She contended that lawyers can make their own arrangements for travel like moving in private vehicles.
Justice Sayed directed the State and Centre to file a reply in the case and adjourned the hearing for two weeks.
Whereas, it was contended in the writ petition that the petitioner Advocate Imran Shaikh that on June 29, he was appearing in a bail application filed before the Metropolitan Magistrate at Esplanade court and so he left home on his friend's motorcycle but was stopped by the police on the Western Express Highway. Despite the petitioner showing his advocate ID and telling them about his appearance before the Esplanade Court, the cops did not listen to him and charged a challan of Rs.500.
The petition states-
"The petitioner was on his way to provide legal services seeking justice for his old age, ailing undertrial client and he had to face arbitrariness of the traffic police and embarrassment.
The petitioner is not questioning the good intentions of the government, the grievance of the petitioner is limited to the point that lawyers may be included in essential services so that the justice delivery system can smoothly function."
Thus, the petitioner sought directions to the State to exempt lawyers and their staff from restrictions of lockdown for the purpose of their court work only and directions to the Commissioner to revoke the challan issued against the petitioner for alleged violation of lockdown rules.
Advocate Karim Pathan appeared on behalf of the petitioner and APP VB Konde Deshmukh for the State.
Justice SS Shinde issued notice to the State and the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa and posted the matter for hearing on July 10.
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