The Bombay High Court Thursday issued notices to the state and the Union governments asking them to file replies in a matter seeking that sanitary napkins be exempt from Goods and Services Tax (GST). The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city-based NGO Shetty Women Welfare Foundation claimed such exemption was essential to ensure that basic menstrual hygiene products are easily accessible to women across the country.
The petition further stated that about 88 per cent of Indian women cannot afford sanitary napkins and following the implementation of GST on July 1, sanitary napkins are being taxed at 12 per cent. According to the NGO, the new tax rate on the napkins will make it unaffordable for an even greater percentage of women and girls. “This has a devastating impact on the menstrual and reproductive health of girls and women in India,” it stated. The court has sought a reply within four weeks.