The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit on the state of affairs in government schools in respect of washrooms and toilets for young lady students.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik asked the government to file the affidavit in two weeks while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking that the government be directed to declare sanitary napkins as an essential commodity and supply them at par with essential commodities to all poor and needy women amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PIL was filed by two law students – Nikita Gore and Vaishnavi Gholave – pointing out that the central and state government were not effectively implementing menstrual hygiene management resulting in women and particularly adolescent girls facing barriers.
During the hearing on Monday, Abhinav Chandrachud, counsel for the petitioners showed certain photographs to the court which showed bad condition of washrooms in government schools in the rural areas.
The judges remarked that although the government has come up with various schemes, it does not implement the same.
“The schemes and yojnas are there. You (central and state governments) have to see that there is ground level implementation (of the schemes),” said CJ Datta. He asked the counsel for the central government of whether there were washrooms in the government schools. “Washrooms are there are now?” asked CJ Datta.
Earlier the Union government had filed an affidavit in response to the PIL stating that the decision to declare sanitary napkins as an essential commodity can be done only after following due process and understanding the current market scenario and demand and supply gap.
“The decision can be taken after due consultative process under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs ensuring involvement of all stakeholders,” read the affidavit filed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The HC has asked the Maharashtra government to file affidavit in two weeks and kept the PIL for hearing after four weeks.