Think of increasing frequency of local trains in Mumbai: HC tells govt

A lawyer, who is a litigant in the case, said the trial courts do not have video conference facility so they have to physically attend the hearings

Chief Justice Datta suggested the state to consider proposing to Railways to increase the frequency to 700 per day each for both CR and WR.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Centre as well as Maharashtra state to increase frequency of local trains on Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) lines in Mumbai to 700 per day each to avoid overcrowding in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

The court commented on low frequency of trains on both the routes despite lockdown restrictions being eased. The court also asked the Maharashtra government what steps it had taken to ensure that physical distancing norms were followed in the existing local train service.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni made the observations while hearing a PIL filed by lawyers, seeking directions to the state to consider practising advocates as essential service providers and permit them to travel by suburban local trains.

A litigant said there were no video conference facilities in trial courts so the lawyers have to physically attend hearings.

The Central Railways ran over 1,700 services before the lockdown, the numbers had been come down to 200 per day during the lockdown and increased to 431 after the relaxations. Similarly, WR runs only 512 services after the relaxation of the lockdown.

“Why have services not been increased corresponding to relaxation?” CJ Datta asked, suggesting the state to consider proposing to Railways to increase the frequency to 700 per day each for both CR and WR. The court will hear the plea next on Friday.

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The Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (BCMG), along with bar associations of trial courts in MMR – including Mumbai, Thane, Raigad and Palghar – were asked to provide a list of lawyers who want to travel by local trains on a daily basis to attend hearings at trial courts.

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