Delhi Court’s Order on Use of Creche Angers Activists

A circular issued by the office of the District and Sessions Judge (North-West and North) Rohini District Court, Delhi has angered employees and activists for setting strange conditions on the accessibility of the court creches to its non-judicial staff.

The children of non-judicial staff would be allowed only if the children of the judicial staff aren’t present and provided the children are “neat, clean, maintain hygiene and are free from diseases”, says the circular issued on May 25.

A court official clarified to Hindustan Times that the circular was not phrased appropriately and the rules were the same for the children of judges and other staff members. No such official clarification however has come forth from the concerned authorities.

Activists slammed this order. The Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development issued a statement, endorsed by academics, NGO heads and child rights organisations nationwide, expressing concern “that while we look toward the judiciary for justice, there is injustice being perpetuated within its own space—the court itself; there are discussions happening around the question of universal child entitlements at various fora, but we are witnessing official, class and caste-based discrimination and segregation in the Rohini District Court.”

The statement also argues that such a position not only specifically goes against the idea of universal childcare, it also violates the right to equality as provided under Art. 15(2) of the Constitution for being discriminatory on the basis of caste and class. It attacks the circular for endorsing the mindset that it is ” only upper-class, upper-caste rich echelons who maintain the hygiene and health of their children, while the rest let their children languish.”

India signed ‘The Convention on the Right of the Child‘ in 1989. In this context of high vulnerability of Indian children, ‘care’ is often regarded as one of the non-negotiable universal rights justiciable against a shared partnership between the state and the employer in the work space. Various policy reforms such as National Policy for Children, 1994, National Policy for Education, 1986, National Policy for Empowerment of Women, 2001 and the National Plan of Action for Children, 2005 have also been initiated in this direction. But despite the efforts, India remains the lowest on child rights indicators.