The Bombay High Court Tuesday asked the state to report on what steps it had taken to spread awareness about sanitary napkins and regarding their high prices. A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by city-based NGO Shetty Women Welfare Foundation claiming that around 88 per cent of women do not use sanitary napkins because of their high price and general poor awareness. The petition also highlights the 12 per cent GST imposed on sanitary napkins.
Hearing the petition, a division bench of Justice N H Patil and Justice N W Sambre asked if there was any scheme in Maharashtra to make sanitary napkins available for all women, to which Advocate Mihir Desai, representing the petitioner, said there were schemes in six districts where napkins were sold at subsidised rates. Citing it as an important issue, the court also asked: “What is State Government’s program on awareness of Sanitary Napkin?”
The court also suggested, “We have associations, organisations and 30% of women in Gram Panchayat who can spread the awareness. State should also carry forward this awareness.” It added: “The Government should consider the cost and make it available at concessional rate.”
The court said the state government should look at the six districts that already had a scheme and consider why there was no scheme in other districts. Justice Patil said, “First step is effective awareness and second step is making the napkins available and at a subsidised rate.” On the issue of GST, the court asked the additional solicitor general to assist the court. The court directed the state to report after two weeks.