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After Delhi HC, Now Bombay HC Issues Notice To Centre, State On PIL Seeking GST Exemption On Sanitary Napkins

The Bombay High Court has issued notices to the Centre and state government in a PIL that seeks Goods and Services Tax exemption on sanitary napkins.

A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice NM Jamdar issued the notices and posted the matter to be heard in four weeks.

According to the PIL filed by Mumbai-based NGO Shetty Women Welfare Foundation, the 12% tax imposed on sanitary napkins/pads after the GST rollout on July 1 would make it even harder for Indian women to afford them.

Senior advocate Mihir Desai appeared for the petitioner.

The PIL quotes from a report prepared by AC Neilsen. The report says:

(a) Only 12% of India’s 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins (SNs).

(b) Over 88% of women resort to shocking alternatives like unsanitised cloth, ashes and husk sand.

(c) Incidents of reproductive tract infection (RTI) are 70% more common among these women.

(d) Inadequate menstrual protection makes adolescent girls (age group 12-18 years) miss 5 days of school in a month (50 days a year). Around 23% of these girls actually drop out of school after they start menstruating.

As reported earlier, a very similar PIL that quotes from the same report has been filed before the Delhi High Court by a PhD scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Following prayers have been made in the PIL:

  1. Order directing the Union of India and the State Governments to implement the existing schemes for providing low cost sanitary napkins and promoting menstrual hygiene.
  2. Order quashing and setting aside the entry of sanitary napkins and tampons from the GST rate schedule for goods.
  3. Order directing the Union of India and the state governments to consider enhancing the existing schemes or introducing new schemes to provide low cost sanitary napkins to as many women and girls as possible and promoting menstrual hygiene awareness.
  4. Order directing the state governments/Union of India to manufacture sanitary napkins using the low-cost manufacturing techniques or establish and assist women self-help groups in manufacturing low cost sanitary napkins and then procure and distribute sanitary napkins from these women self-help groups.
  5. Order directing the Municipal Corporations and Zilla Parishads in each district in Maharashtra to set-up sanitary vending and disposal machines in each and every public& private school and public toilet in Maharashtra.
  6. Order directing the Union of India and the GST Council to consider price regulating sanitary napkins under the Essential Commodities Act.
  7. Order directing the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority to consider price regulating sanitary napkins under the DPCO 2013.

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