The Supreme Court on April 10 said a “uniform national policy” may be framed by the Centre in consultation with States and Union Territories to ensure menstrual hygiene by providing sanitary pads, vending and disposal mechanisms and exclusive washrooms for girl students in schools.
“It is appropriate if the Union of India deals with the States and Union Territories to form a uniform national policy with sufficient leeway for States and Union Territories based on prevailing conditions,” a Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud said.
The court said the issue was in public interest and highlighted the need for sanitation and menstrual hygiene for girl children in government-aided and residential schools.
The court was hearing a petition to direct the government to ensure provision of sanitary pads to girl students in Classes 6 to 12 and separate toilets. The petition raised the need for spreading awareness among schools on the issue.
The Centre, represented by Additional Solicitor-General Aishwarya Bhati, indicated that the Health, Education and Jal Shakti were the nodal ministries concerned with the issue.
Ms. Bhati said States also had a vital role to play as education and health came within their jurisdiction.
The court gave States and Union Territories four weeks to submit to the Union Health Secretary their menstrual hygiene plans and programmes, funded either through the Centre or with their own funds.
The court also asked the States and Union Territories to provide the ratio of girls’ toilets in schools and the amounts spent on low-cost sanitary pads and vending and disposal mechanisms in upper primary, secondary and higher secondary schools.
The Centre was asked to file an updated status report. The court listed the case after three months by the end of July.