Delhi HC seeks Centre’s response on PIL demanding free sanitary pads

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notices seeking response on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which has demanded the availability of sanitary pads at free or at subsidised rates. The petition also demanded that education be provided for menstrual hygiene.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Harishankar termed it as a “serious issue” and directed that a status report including various details of existing schemes and their implementation be filed by the respondents.

The notice was issued to the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), Human Resource Development (HRD), Health and Family Welfare Ministry, four civic bodies of Delhi, Directorate of Education, Government of NCT and Ministry of Health and Welfare, Government of NCT.

According to the plea filed by advocate Setu Niket, there has been a steep rise in the number of dropout rates of the girl children aged 10 from schools due to lack of education on menstruation. It said that girls drop out because of the hurdles they face during this stage.

The petition alleged that the state has failed in its responsibility to provide education to the girl child who drop out from school after entering the age of puberty due to certain biological changes in the body and due to lack of sanitary products and the inability (due to lack of education or financial constraints) of her guardians.

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The court also asked a status report on separate toilets for girl children school with easy access to sanitary pads either for free or subsidised rate. It directed to conduct workshops on menstrual hygiene for school girls and fixed the next date on November 7.

The petition prayed to Formulate a National Level Policy to establish a mechanism to provide education, sensitization and ensure availability of menstrual hygiene products to adolescent girls in schools.

It sought the implementation of the policy across all co-education and girl Schools (Government, Private-Aided and Unaided) thereby demanding formal education on menstrual hygiene to the girl child.

The petition comes amidst raging debates over the GST rates on the sanitary pads which have been kept in the slab of 12 per cent. There is no clarity on the price of the essential article after this move by the government.

COURT DIRECTS

  • The court also asked for a status report on separate toilets for girl children in schools with easy access to sanitary pads
  • It directed govt to conduct workshops on menstrual hygiene in school and fixed the next hearing on Nov 7
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