Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday issued a notice to the Centre and the Maharashtra government, seeking their response to a plea for exempting sanitary napkins from the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Nitin Jamdar was hearing the petition filed by Shetty Woman Welfare Foundation, a city-based NGO, to make access to basic menstrual hygiene products easier for women. Under the GST regime, which rolled out on July 1, sanitary napkins come under the 12 per cent tax category.
The public interest litigation, which was filed on June 29, argued that only 12 per cent women in India could afford sanitary napkins, thus leaving the basic hygiene product out of the reach for the remaining 88 per cent women and girls. The NGO said that steps were necessary to ensure the menstrual and reproductive health of women, as these are rights conferred upon them by article 21 of the Constitution of India.
"There are sixteen respondents in the PIL, in which five departments are connected with the central government. The court issued notice to the central government and the state government and posted the matter for hearing after four weeks," senior counsel Mihir Desai, who appeared for the petitioner, told The Asian Age.