Saying that emphasis was on providing easy and accessible toilet facilities and washrooms for women, Justices A S Oka and A S Gadkari said, “The petitioner has raised an important issue by filing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) of providing essential facilities for a woman walking on the streets.’’
The court noted that such facilities were not available.
One of the suggestions made by the petitioners included establishing such facilities on main roads.
“The municipal authorities are under obligation to provide such facilities on the side of various main roads for women walking on the streets. Ideally, these toilet facilities have to be established along main roads, however, it will depend on facts and circumstances in each case,’’ said the HC.
The petitioners work for a Pune-based monthly periodical ‘Milun Saryajani’, a magazine catering particularly to the need of women. The PIL sought restrooms in convenient locations for women in the Pune Municipal Corporation area. The HC later asked all municipal corporations to follow the PMC model.
The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation made a suggestion that after evolving the scheme, adequate provisions should be made for maintenance of these toilets.
“The municipal corporation may charge a slightly higher amount than what is applicable for community toilets. The rate shall, however, be fixed so that it is affordable to the women who use the facilities,’’ said the court.
The HC said that NGOs can make periodical visits to such faculties to oversee the maintenance since the municipal corporation have an inherent difficulty of inadequate staff and infrastructure.
“In local and ward level committees, NGOs working in the field of women’s issues will have to be given representation so that they can make periodical visits to these facilities to ensure they are properly maintained,’’ the HC further said.
The petitioner submitted a list of women associated with NGOs working in this field. “Before formulating the scheme, a meeting of such NGOs should be called by the municipal authorities so that their suggestions are taken into consideration from the planning stage.
These NGOs should be permitted to play an important tole in ensuring cleanliness of such facilities which is of paramount importance,’’ said the judges.
The municipal corporations have also been asked to consider appropriate budgetary provisions for construction and maintenance of these facilities.
“Providing e-toilets (unmanned electronic public toilets) should also be looked into depending on the local situation,’’ said the HC.
All municipal corporations have been asked to formulate their schemes and place their compliance affidavits before the court by March 31, 2015.