At court toilets, it is either hold up or hold your breath


November 21, 2014

The betel-stained, muck-filled washrooms of Kurla Magistrate Court.

November 21, 2014

The betel-stained, muck-filled washrooms of Kurla Magistrate Court.

KURLA – With only four toilets on the ground floor of the oldest high court in the country — Bombay High Court at DN Road — catering to approximately 14,000 litigants daily, apart from its staff, maintenance is an uphill task given that the numbers show the wide gap between the need and supply. The stench from operational toilets are also overpowering.

As the HC upgrades these facilities, women litigants in particular are left to fend for themselves. The reason being that new toilets for women are not yet ready.

“Because of the ongoing renovation of toilet facilities, one has to find other available options in the HC. Moreover, toilets are available only on the ground floor,” said Amarjeet Lidder, a litigant.

An HC official said, “We wanted to upgrade our facilities as earlier there were common toilets for men and women, making it uncomfortable for the latter. Now, we have separated the men and women’s urinals. We have also created ramps to make the toilets more accessible for the differently abled.”

Since other floors have toilets only for lawyers and court staff, litigants often end up requesting use of those facilities, but are mostly denied.

The issue of availability of clean toilets is not limited to the Bombay HC. While hearing a public interest litigation on this issue on November 20, Justices A S Oka and A S Gadkari had observed that “this was a very elementary duty” and sought a reply from the state government on when they would release required funds “for creating basic infrastructure like washrooms and waiting rooms in court rooms”.

The state government, while stating that similar demands had come from all courts, informed the high court that over Rs 3 crore would be released in a week.

Across courts, lack of civic sense is a major complain. “The only solution is to hold your breath and walk in or we just use the public urinal situated right outside the court,” said constable J D Vaje, referring to the Esplanade Court near CST.

At the City Sessions and Civil Court, Fort, which has 57 courts, while accessibility is not an issue, the toilets are unkempt and leaky. It has two buildings – the new one has five floors with four toilets on each floor, the old building has three floors, with two toilets each.

“You can spot us rushing out of courtrooms after hearings. We hold on till we reach our office near Fort,” said lawyer Munira Palanpurwala.

The toilets at Kurla court too are in a deplorable condition “The one bathroom with four pots, which is made for the lawyers, is used by under-trials, who lack basic civic sense. We seem to have all the amenities, but maintenance is a major issue,” said advocate Ansar Hussain.

Courtesy: Indian Express