Bombay High Court tells Maharashtra government to make sanitary pads cheaper

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Bombay High Court tells Maharashtra government to make sanitary pads cheaper

A PIL filed raised the issue that sanitary napkins were unavailable to over 80 per cent women due to lack of awareness and its high price.

The Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra government to “consider cutting down the cost of napkins" and making "them available at concessional rates.”

A division bench of Justices NH Patil and NW Sambre said this was an important issue that affects half the population.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city based NGO Shetty Women Welfare Foundation raising the issue of unavailability of sanitary napkins for over 80 per cent women due to lack of awareness and its high price.

The petition also challenged the 12 per cent GST imposed on sanitary napkins.

During the hearing of the PIL, the court also asked the state to mention what steps it has taken to spread awareness about the use of sanitary napkins and making them available at concessional rates.

The division bench said, "This is an important issue. It affects half the population. What has the Maharashtra government done to increase and spread awareness about use of sanitary napkins?"

“First step is effective awareness and the second step is making the napkins available at a subsidised rate,” Justice Patil added.

The bench suggested that the government should issue guidelines to Gram Panchayats which can then ask their women members to spread awareness on the issue among girls at the rural level.

The court has directed the principal secretary and secretary of concerned departments to hold discussions on the issue and said that it would be better if the additional solicitor general assisted the court on the issue of GST. The state will have to give a detailed reply after two weeks.

After 12 per cent GST was imposed, many women and self help groups had made representations to the government. However, in spite of many promises nothing was done on the issue.