A Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Bombay High Court (HC) in relation to permitting lawyers to utilize the local train services while attending physical hearings. After obtaining consent from the Union of India and the State Government, the Bombay HC directed the Registry to issue day passes for eligible Advocates.
A bunch of PIL’s was filed in the Bombay HC by Chirag Chanani, Sagar Sahani, Nitin Patil, and Ashley Kusher. During the previous hearing for the same, the Division Bench consisting of Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni had suggested allowing lawyers to utilize the local train services while attending physical hearings. This was recommended in light of the information that many lawyers were unable to appear for physical hearings in Court due to the lack of any other mode of transportation.
The respondent’s – the Union of India and the State Government consented to consider the Court’s request on an experimental basis.
After taking requisite instructions, the Advocate General (AG) placed on record, a brief note that would set out arrangements that could be made for lawyers attending physical hearings. The aforesaid note specified the steps to be taken by advocates to obtain a certification to that effect from the registrar. After issuance of the certificate, the respective advocate could then approach the appropriate railway authorities for issuance of a travel pass. The AG stated that such an arrangement would only be on an experimental basis and specifically for advocates attending physical hearings.
The Learned Additional Solicitor General (ASG), after obtaining instructions from the railways, stated that they agreed to the same as suggested on behalf of the State.
The Court accepted the arrangement as suggested by the Union and the State and as agreed by the Railways. However, it noted that in light of the present situation, no individual requests except for the advocates required to appear for the physical hearing would be considered. These applications would be considered on the adjourned date of hearing, i.e. 6th October 2020.
The Court directed that the arrangement would be in operation from 18th September 2020 up until 7th October 2020. The Court issued the following order:
- The concerned advocate who intends to physically appear before the Benches of this Court at its principal seat at Mumbai shall apply to the designated registrar of the High Court seeking a day’s pass relating to the particular date only on which his/her matter is listed for hearing before one of the four Benches of this High Court. The designated registrar only after confirming the correctness of the claim so made in the application in terms of the present arrangement via email will issue a certification of the requirement for a particular day to the concerned advocate.
- Upon receipt of such certification from the designated registrar, the advocate concerned will approach the railway authorities to obtain appropriate pass/document for travel or ticket permitting him/her to avail the local train services, for the particular day for which travel permission is required.
- The railway authorities after verifying the pass so issued will issue appropriate travel documents/ticket etc., as the case may be, permitting travel by local train services to the applicant/advocate for the particular day.
- The above arrangement would be available to the applicant/advocate only and who satisfies all the above conditions.
- The arrangement will continue to operate on an experimental basis up to 7th October 2020 with effect from 18th September 2020.
In conclusion, the Bombay HC asserted that the certification issued shouldn’t be misused in any manner whatsoever by the concerned advocate. In case of misuse, the Court noted that the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa would take appropriate action as may be permissible in law.
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