The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notices to the Delhi government and the Centre after a petition asked for the 12% Goods and Services Tax on sanitary napkins to be dropped or reduced.

Activists have criticised the government for taxing sanitary napkins under the GST, pointing out that they are a necessity for nearly half the population, and not a luxury product.

Advocate Setu Niket, who filed the petition, also said that many Indian girls drop out of school after they start menstruating because they know so little about it, and that the governments had not done enough to educate them. The petition added that the governments should provide girls with free sanitary pads. The court asked both the governments to submit a status report on any schemes they have implemented to educate girls about menstruation.

The next hearing has been scheduled for November 7.

GST on sanitary pads

Sanitary pads were placed in the 12% tax slab when the GST was implemented on July 1, though several other products such as sindoor and bangles were declared tax-free. Many items considered household necessities were placed in the 5% slab.

Soon after, an NGO had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court asking for the GST on sanitary napkins to be dropped. The Shetty Women’s Welfare Foundation had pointed out that only 12% of menstruating women in India could afford sanitary napkins.

On July 10, the Ministry of Finance had put out a statement saying the tax on sanitary napkins under the GST was less than what it was before. The ministry said the napkins were taxed a total of 13.68% before the GST was implemented because a concessional excise duty and VAT was levied on them.