November,5,2015: When the two-year old girl entered a quiet, neat and tidy room with her parents, she had Chief Justice of India H L Dattu waiting, with chocolates and flowers in hand, to welcome the first infant guest of the Supreme Court crèche facility.
The CJI told her parents he was elated to receive the first entrant, who appeared sleepy-eyed, to the crèche, which became functional Wednesday.
Minutes later, the girl perked up. Sleep gone, she relished chocolates, fiddled with the soft toys and a doodle board. Her mother, a Supreme Court registry staff, breathed a sigh of relief when she saw her child enjoying the colourful ambience. The two rooms assigned in the New Lawyers’ Chamber block are filled with toys, puzzles and building blocks.
The child’s mother said, “I have two children; she is the younger one. We don’t have anybody at home to look after her when both of us go out to work. I told my husband about the crèche in the Supreme Court and he agreed that it would be completely safe and reassuring for us if we have her admitted here. I can visit her during my lunch break and also in any emergency.”
The crèche, expected to make the lives of women lawyers and court staff easier, saw three children being enrolled on the opening day. Designed with guidance from RAK Child Study Centre at Lady Irwin College, it has a playroom, a resting room, a kitchen and a toilet. There are four trained staff to look after the children.
Seen as a reform measure aimed at extending professional longevity of women lawyers, the crèche, at present, can accommodate 10 children. ”It is a momentous occasion. It is just the beginning.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has sought a bigger space for crèche in the new building coming up for Registry officials. We hope our request is accepted,” said SCBA secretary Aishwarya Bhati. Bhati spotted two tables in the facility with sharp edges and said they should be replaced. “I am a mother and had to take a break from my profession when my children were small.
I know women lawyers who leave their children in cars with nannies while they are in court. We want lawyers’ children to be taken care of when their parents are busy working,” she added. Ritu Puri, an advocate and executive committee member of SCBA who is on the committee monitoring the setting up of the creche, said CJI Dattu expressed satisfaction that the efforts by the court and the SCBA had brought results.
The crèche was supposed to open earlier this year, but it got delayed after a woman lawyer filed a PIL in the top court, raising some concerns. During a recent hearing, however, a bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi told Bhati the creche could open and the court would address the legal issues separately.