The Karnataka High Court on Thursday said that making sure separate lavatories for pubescent girls in schools and supplying them with sanitary napkins on a regular basis are not just occasions to empower the girl child, but also an initiative taken towards execution of the right to education under Article 21A. A Bench comprising Justices BV Nagarathna and JM Khazi said that right to free and compulsory education for children between the age of 6 and 14 years is a fundamental right and would include girls in that age group as well.
While hearing the appeal the Bench also observed that “If you want to empower young women and young girls, provide these facilities”.
The court was hearing an appeal moved by the Anti-corruption Council of India in 2018 asking for the strict execution of the Shuchi Scheme which calls for dispensation of sanitary napkins to pubescent girls studying in schools and staying in hostels between 10-19 years. As per the data, a total number of 17,06,933 Teenage girls are beneficiaries of the scheme in the state.
Although, during the years 2019-20 and 20-21, attainment of sanitary napkins to be distributed to teenage girls was not made on account of financial limitations.
Bearing this in mind, the Court directed the State government to file a status report with regard to the implementation of the scheme and to inform when the administrative approvals for the attainment of sanitary napkins/pads, as proposed for the year 2021-22, would be secured.
Further proceeding applauds the State Government as it sought to extend the Shuchi scheme for teenage girls from 10 to 19 years as well.
The appeal had also prayed for instructions to the respondents to provide requisite infrastructure and amenities to students, teachers, and staff in government-aided schools.
On Thursday while hearing, the Court was well informed of a survey report submitted by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA) carried out in association with the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in 2019. The report declared that out of 889 schools in the State, 63 percent of schools had discrete toilets for girls, out of which 82 percent are useful.
The Bench then ordered the KSLSA to make available the addresses of the 889 schools which were inspected so that the same could be considered and ascertained as to whether the Government of State has executed to provide infrastructural facilities in those 889 schools, including the facilities of separate toilets for girls/boys, provision of electricity connection, kitchen facilities of the midday meal, drinking water facility, etc.
A further hearing of the matter will be scheduled for April 16.