New Delhi: The AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) government has told the Delhi High Court that it has come up with a draft policy for setting up rooms for feeding and changing diapers of infants in public places and the process of placing the document in public domain for suggestions is underway. The court was informed that the Delhi government’s Department of Women and Child Development (WCD) has drafted the policy which has been circulated to all landowning departments and other public-dealing departments in July for inviting comments.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed on behalf of a mother and her newborn seeking breastfeeding facilities in public places away from “censuring and dishonourable looks”.
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The Delhi government, in an affidavit filed in response to the petition, said, the Department of Urban Development (UD) has asked the WCD department to frame a state policy on ‘setting up of feeding room for the purpose of baby care room or nursing station or changing soggy diapers or feeding of infant in public places’. It said,
Accordingly, on behalf of the department of UD, the department of WCD has drafted a state policy by the name ‘setting up of feeding room for the purpose of baby care room or nursing station or changing soggy diapers or feeding of infants in public places’.
The affidavit said that as soon as comments and suggestions are received from all stakeholders and public-spirited persons, the same will be examined in consultation with the urban development department and other landowning agencies. It said,
Suggestions/comments which are in public interest will be incorporated in the draft policy, thereafter, the same will be issued after seeking approval of the government.
The affidavit, filed before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, said the final policy will be sent to all stakeholders and landowning departments for its implementation and timelines will be sought so that the implementation can be monitored.
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The Delhi government said it is exploring the possibility of incorporating such rooms in future building plans and amendments to building bye-laws to implement the policy. Several consultations have been held with the civic bodies, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the departments of women and child development, and urban development.
The plea, filed through advocate Animesh Rastogi, contends that not providing such facilities amounts to “hampering” women’s right to privacy. The high court had earlier sought the stand of the Centre, the Delhi government and civic authorities here on the plea for providing facilities to mothers to breastfeed in public places, observing that such spaces were being provided all over the world.
It had said the matter needs to be examined by all landowning agencies and civic bodies and issued notice to the municipal bodies and DDA, apart from the Centre and the Delhi government. It had noted there were no facilities to breastfeed even in airports here. The court had earlier directed the Centre, AAP government and other local authorities here to together work out a plan for providing separate rooms in public places and buildings for mothers to breastfeed in privacy.
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