Based on public interest litigation (PIL) that on account of the non-disclosure of the ingredients used for producing sanitary napkins and diapers, it is not clear as to whether any harmful chemicals are used to improve their absorbent quality, the Madras High Court has sought both the State and Centre to explain as to how the manufacture of sanitary napkins and diapers are regulated in the country.
Holding that the petitioner has flagged a very important issue and this court is inclined to entertain the PIL to ascertain the parameters behind the manufacture of sanitary napkins and diapers, a division bench comprising Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice S Ananthi directed the Assistant Solicitor General appearing for the Centre and the government counsel for the State to file a countersigned by an appropriate authority.
The petitioner Ayyaa, who had published a research article regarding the use of certain chemicals affecting persons using such napkins and diapers in the International Journal for Innovative Research in Science and Technology, submitted that non-disclosure of the ingredients raises doubts about the possible use of harmful chemicals.
Based on this, he sought the court for a direction to make the standard test issued by the Bureau of Indian Standards i.e. IS 5405:2019 mandatory for the company’s manufacturing sanitary napkins and diapers.
The petitioner’s counsel on referring to the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act, 2019 passed in New York and subsequently in California in 2020, submitted that the intentionally added ingredients are bound to be disclosed and the consumer is entitled to know as to what are the inputs, which are used in the manufacture of the final products.
The bench also recorded the submission of the petitioner obtained through the Right to Information Act that the Union has announced the launching of Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin under Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) and napkins are available at Rs 10 for a pack of four.
It also recorded that the napkins are being tested at the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) and the Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) will follow the norms and regulations under the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for quality testing of sanitary napkins. The State had also submitted that there are schemes evolved by it for the distribution of sanitary napkins to the needy.