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Case Background

  • The Anti-Corruption Council of India had filed a petition in 2018, seeking the Karnataka High Court’s direction to the State to implement the necessary infrastructure and other facilities in the Government aided schools.
  • In pursuance of the petition, the Karnataka High Court Bench, comprising Justice B V Nagarathna and Justice J M Khazi, in May 2021, suggested the State Government to come up with a strategy for the implementation of the SHUCHI scheme as well as a menstrual hygiene project.
  • However, no visible progress has been made till now, and the case is still pending.
  • Looking at the slow pace, the Karnataka High Court Bench, on 29th July 2021, ordered the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare services to appear before the Bench on 5th August to submit its record on the progress so far.
  • The High Court also provided some oral suggestions in this regard.

Petitioner’s Submission

  • The petitioner made the following prayers:

i) To issue a writ of mandamus directing the State to conduct physical inspection of schools and submit its report.
ii) To direct the State to provide infrastructure and other necessary facilities to the students, teaching and non-teaching staffs in Government aided schools.
iii) To direct the State to conduct health care and check-up programs on a regular basis in Government aided schools.
iv) To direct the State to provide some kinds of vaccination free of cost to poor students.
v) To direct the State to implement the SHUCHI scheme strictly.

State’s Response

  • The State, had earlier, submitted that the State was unable to move forward with the project in 2019-20 and 2020-21 due to financial constraints.
  • However, it also assured that a technical meeting would be soon held in April 2021 and by May 2021, the administrative approval would be sought.
  • Further, within 90 days after the approval, the implementation shall be made.
  • It was also submitted that Rs. 47 crore has been allocated for implementation purposes.

Court’s Order

  • The Karnataka High Court Bench comprising Justice B. V. Nagarathna and Justice P. Krishna Bhat, issued an order directing the State Health Commissioner to personally appear before the Bench in the next hearing.
  • It also questioned about the non-implementation of the SHUCHI scheme despite the State’s assurance.
  • The Bench also suggested the State to approach the corporate houses to provide funds for the implementation of the Scheme under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Scheme.

The SHUCHI Scheme

  • The SHUCHI was initially a centrally sponsored project which was formulated in 2013 to create menstrual hygiene awareness among adolescent girls.
  • However, in 2015-16, the State took in charge of the implementation of the project with support from the Union Government.
  • The chief objective of the scheme is to spread awareness about menstrual hygiene, and thereby improving the health and nutrition of girls. It also aims to develop the overall status of such girls by helping them with opportunities and skills.
  • Up till 2019, more than 18 lakh adolescent girls got themselves enrolled in the scheme in Karnataka with the State Government spending around 49 crores on the SHUCHI scheme every year.
  • However, the Government did not allocate any funds for the project during the Budget Session for the year 2020-21.
  • Though the State reasoned that there were some financial issues, yet it seems that it had not taken any further step to implement the program.
  • Realising the importance of the scheme for the overall empowerment of young girls, the Karnataka High Court is stressing on the proper and strict enforcement of the SHUCHI Scheme.

What are your views on the scheme, the state’s response, and the Court’s standpoint?

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