Provide women clean public toilets, HC tells civic bodies in Maharashtra

A woman has the right to have a safe and clean toilet at all convenient places which in a way impacts their right to live with human dignity, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday said while issuing several guidelines to be implemented by all municipal corporations in Maharashtra.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and Revati Mohite-Dere was hearing a public interest litigation on the issue of lack of public toilet facilities for women in the state.

"Women has the right to have safe and clean toilets at all convenient places which in a way impacts their right to live with human dignity. One of the paramount duties of the state and the corporations is to improve public toilets for women at all convenient places," the bench said on Wednesday.

"Clean public toilets contribute to the health and well being of the society. Need for clean toilets for women walking on the street cannot be ignored. The need for women toilets is felt even more acutely, during menstruation, when it is difficult to anticipate when it will time to change a sanitary napkin, resulting in frequent trips to the washroom," it said.

The bench has directed all municipal corporations to formulate a comprehensive scheme for construction of toilets for women on streets. "The civic bodies shall constitute a committee under the chairmanship of the commissioner or additional commissioner within four weeks," the court said.

"The scheme shall identify spots on all major and arterial roads for construction of toilets and also include its management and maintenance. The toilets should have regular supply of electricity and water and adequate security. CCTV cameras can be installed outside the toilets for safety purposes," the court said.

"The toilets shall also have soap dispensers, mirrors, toilet papers, hand dryers, sanitary disposal dustbins. As far as pay and use facilities are concerned sanitary napkins and tampons shall also be made available. A lady security guard should also be present," the court said.

The court has directed all the civic bodies in the state to file a compliance report on March 8, 2016.

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