Bombay High Court Advocate Finds Crèche Transformed Into Document Storage; Raises Concerns Over Lack of Basic Facilities

Bombay High Court Advocate Finds Crèche Transformed Into Document Storage; Raises Concerns Over Lack of Basic Facilities

Located on the ground floor of the Central Telegraph Office building, the crèche was started during the tenure of then Chief Justice Manjula Chellur on November 4, 2017.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, January 14, 2024, 09:18 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File Image

After recently returning from her maternity leave, 32-year-old Advocate Nandita (name changed) went to check the crèche at the Bombay High Court, which was inaugurated by then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in 2017. However, she was baffled to see that though the walls were adorned with pictures of Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty, the room was occupied by stacks of legal papers from top to bottom.

Located on the ground floor of the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) building, the crèche was started during the tenure of then Chief Justice Manjula Chellur on November 4, 2017. Devendra Fadnavis, who was the chief minister at that time, was the event's chief guest. As the high court was reeling under space shortage, it was decided to start the facility in the room allotted by the government for storage of documents. Over the period of time, the crèche got converted into the original side department, a place for storing documents relating to the court's original side.

Lack of basic infrastructure, room for nursing mothers

The issue came to light during the hearing in a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, highlighting lack of basic infrastructure, including a day care facility and a room for nursing mothers, in the family courts in the state. The missing amenities affect advocates and litigants equally. The PIL's scope was then extended to other courts in the state, which lacked basic facilities like bar rooms for advocates and separate washrooms for women advocates.

During the petition's hearing, it came to the fore that the HC, which has a large number of women advocates, does not have a crèche. As a result, advocates returning from maternity leave often faced difficulty when their cases would not come up for hearing till evening.

Senior Advocate SR Nargolkar, who argued on behalf of the high court administration, said that the crèche was started with a noble cause, but unfortunately there was a lack of support staff. Another prominent reason, which made the facility defunct, was no proper response from advocates and litigants.

'A vicious cyle'

To which, Advocate Association of Western India member Uday Warunjikar said that sufficient information was not publicised about the crèche. Hence, there were not many takers owing to the lack of awareness about the facility. “As there was no good response, it was presumed it was not needed. It’s a vicious cycle,” Warunjikar said.

A senior official from the HC administration department, who did not wish to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said that they will look into the issue. Talking to The Free Press Journal, he said, “This was not brought to our notice before. Now that we are aware of it, we will take necessary action.”

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