national policy on menstrual hygiene

Supreme Court: While hearing a writ petition made under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by a Congress Leader Jaya Thakur (‘petitioner’), seeking directions on the issue of sanitation and menstrual hygiene for females in schools, the three-Judge Bench comprising of Chief Justice of India, Dr. DY Chandrachud, J.B. Pardiwala, Manoj Misra, JJ., warned the States and Union Territories which were defaulting in submitting their responses to the Union Government for formulation of National Policy on Menstrual Hygiene, that the Court would be constrained to take recourse to the coercive arm of the law.

In the matter at hand, the petitioner was seeking a direction to the Union of India, the States and Union Territories (‘respondents’) to ensure that there is provision of free sanitary pads to every female child studying between classes 6 to 12 and separate toilets for females in all Government aided and residential schools. Several other consequential reliefs were sought including the maintenance of toilets and awareness programmes on menstrual hygiene. The petition raised important issues of public interest bearing on the need for sanitation and menstrual hygiene for females who are studying in schools.

Earlier, vide order dated 10-04-2023, the respondents were directed to ensure that a uniform National Policy was formulated with sufficient leeway for the States and Union Territories to make adjustments, based on the prevailing conditions in their territories. The Court had also directed all the respondents to submit their menstrual hygiene management strategies and plans which were being executed either with the help of funds provided by the Central Government or through their own funds to the Mission Steering Group of the National Health Mission within a period of four weeks.

However, it was brought to the attention of the Court that only four States including Delhi, Haryana, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh had submitted their responses to the Union Government. Therefore, the Court had directed all other States and Union Territories to submit their responses positively by 31-08-2023. The Court also warned the States and Union Territories, which were in default, that if there would be any further default in submitting their responses, the Court would be constrained to take recourse to the coercive arm of the law.

The matter was further listed for hearing on 06-11-2023.

[Dr. Jaya Thakur v. Government of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 881, Order Dated: 24-07-2023] ]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioners: Advocate on Record Varinder Kumar Sharma, Advocate Varun Thakur, Advocate Shantanu Sharma, Advocate Deeksha Gaur, Advocate Brijesh Pandey;

For Respondents: Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, Advocate on Record Gurmeet Singh Makker, Advocate Dr. Arun Kumar Yadav, Advocate Shraddha Deshmukh, Advocate Deepabali Dutta, Advocate Veer Vikrant Singh, Advocate on Record Manish Kumar, Advocate Ravi Shanker Jha, Advocate on Record Abhimanyu Tewari, Advocate Eliza Barr, Advocate on Record Swati Ghildiyal, Advocate Prashant Bhagwati, Advocate Devyani Bhatt, Senior Additional Advocate General Lokesh Sinhal, Advocate on Record Dr. Monika Gusain, Advocate on Record Nishe Rajen Shonker, Advocate Anu K Joy, Advocate Abraham C. Mathew, Advocate Alim Anvar, AOR Mrinal Gopal Elker, Advocate Saurabh Singh, Advocate Divyansh Singh, Advocate Aarushi Gupta, Advocate Dr. Ravindra Chingle, Advocate Siddharth Dharmadhikari, AOR Aaditya Aniruddha Pande, Advocate Bharat Bagla, Advocate Sourav Singh, AOR Pukhrambam Ramesh Kumar, Advocate Karun Sharma, Advocate Anupama Ngangom, Advocate on Record K. Enatoli Sema, Advocate Limayinla Jamir, Advocate Amit Kumar Singh, Advocate Chubalemla Chang, Advocate Prang Newmai, AOR Rajiv Kumar Choudhry , AOR Madhumita Bhattacharjee, Advocate Urmila Kar Purkayastha, Advocate Sandeep, Advocate Anant, AOR Sabarish Subramanian, Advocate Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Advocate C. Kranthi Kumar, Advocate Naman Dwivedi, Advocate Danish Saifi.

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