The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), while showing its willingness to bring sanitary napkins under essential commodities, told the Bombay High Court that a decision may be taken only after following due procedure, which includes understanding market scenario and keeping in mind quality, costing and preferences of the beneficiaries.
The submissions come after the High Court on June 5 directed the central and state governments to respond within three weeks on a plea, filed by law students, seeking sanitary napkins to be made an essential commodity and be supplied through the public distribution system (PDS) during the lockdown.
The Centre, through MoHFW under-secretary Dilip Kumar Sahu, earlier this week, submitted an affidavit stating, “I most humbly submit that the decision to bring sanitary napkins under the essential commodities may be done after understanding the current market scenario, demand-supply gap, if any; also keeping in mind the various options of brands, quality, specification, costing and preferences of the beneficiaries.” The MoHFW also said the decision can be taken after due consultation with the Consumer Affairs Ministry and ensuring the involvement of all stakeholders.
The Centre also said the petitioners had made a sweeping allegation that the government machinery was not working properly during the lockdown.
A division bench, led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta, was hearing, through video-conference, the pleas filed by law students, Nikita Gore and Vaishnavi Gholave, through advocate Vinod Sangvikar, seeking direction to the government to recognise sanitary napkin as an essential commodity by making changes to the Essential Commodity Act, 1955.
The court is likely to take up the case for further hearing next week.
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