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State Cannot Ignore Distribution of Sanitary Napkins to Adolescent School Going Girls During 2nd Wave of COVID-19: Karnataka High Court

State Cannot Ignore Distribution of Sanitary Napkins

Karnataka High Court on 31st May 2021 Monday, directed the state government to ensure that all efforts are made for proper implementation of SUCHI Scheme.

“We appreciate that this state health department is focusing its attention on various aspects of COVID-19 second wave. However, we do not think that SUCHI scheme could be ignored as such,” the court said.

A division bench presided by Justice B V Nagarathna and Justice Hanchate Sanjeevkumar, said that “This is a scheme which is conceptualized by state government for the benefit of adults and girls in order to ensure their attendance in school and in order to also ensure their health hygiene and privacy. In these circumstances while we understand that schedule submitted to this court is not complied by the health department so far as no meeting is held in April and no administrative approval has been given for procurement in May. We direct such a meeting of the technical committee, shall be convened on or before June 15 and approval for procurement shall be given on or before June 30 and within 90 days thereafter procurement shall be made.”

Under the scheme napkins are to be distributed to adults and girls studying in school and staying in hostels between the age group of 10 to 19 years. A total of 17,06,933 adolescent girls are beneficiaries of the scheme in this state. However, during years 2019 to 20 and 22-21, procurement of sanitary napkins to be distributed to girls was not made on account of financial constraint.

The state government had earlier filed a memo informing the court that by the end of April 2021 the technical committee would be meeting and in the month of May 2021 the administrative approval will be sought and within 90 days thereafter the procurement shall be made.

The government council has also informed the bench that due to the second wave of coronavirus; the government officials were not attending the office and thus the technical committee meeting could not be held. 

To which Justice Nagarathna said, “You have to have the meeting in June and administrative approval shall be taken in June and 90 days thereafter procurement should be done. Doing online meetings is easy.” 

"At home today I took a class for judicial officers at the judicial Academy and I came, it is a matter of will. You have to take help from technology, but you have to implement the SUCHI scheme,” he added.

The bench continued that, “We are constrained to issue an aforesaid time schedule to ensure that the SUCHI scheme is not given a go by, while the health department is attending to issues arising on account of the coronavirus pandemic. It is necessary to reiterate that the scheme for adolescent girls for the age group between 10 to 19 years is in order to ensure that such girls don't miss out attendance in schools on their menstruation days and in order to ensure their health and hygiene and thereby attendance of girls in schools."

The direction was given during the hearing of a petition filed by anti-corruption council of India. the court has directed the state government to file a status report on the directions by July 1st 2021. On the following date it will also consider the issues of infrastructure to be made available to schools.


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