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Poor Governance Amid Covid Forced Courts To Step Up With These Judgments

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

India is fighting against the second wave of coronavirus, which is said to be the worst humanitarian crisis since Partition. During these desperate situations, the Indian Judiciary has come forward to protect human lives by exercising their power vested under the Indian Constitution.

On May 1, 2021, the number of the country’s daily Covid cases crossed 400,000, which subsequently burdened the country’s healthcare system, which was overwhelmed with patients and was on the verge of collapsing — where it was believed that the worst is yet to come, where the daily cases were rising up to 8-10 lakh.

India’s steep increase in the rising numbers of Covid cases has led to the criticism of the government for not handling the pandemic well from the Covid task force that did not have any meeting on the month of February and March, in spite of reporting a surge in Covid cases to the Election Commission, who is being severely criticised for conducting elections in the time of the pandemic and allowing mass gathering and roadshows to happen.

In the worst humanitarian crisis in the country, the Indian Judiciary has come forward to protect the lives of citizens by exercising their power vested under the Indian Constitution. As the Delhi High Court described the situation during the second wave as a situation “where the state failed in fulfilling its fundamental obligation of protecting fundamental rights, i.e. the Right to Life of its citizens”, whereas the Madhya Pradesh High Court while dealing with Covid-related matters, referred to various Supreme Court judgments where the High Court had interpreted that the Right to Life also includes Right to Health, and this right can only be secured if the State provides an adequate measure for the treatment.

In the worst humanitarian crisis in the country, the Indian Judiciary has come forward to protect the lives of citizens by exercising their power vested under the Indian Constitution.

The Indian Judiciary turned up as a corona warrior, whereas the Central and the State government faltered to provide basic medical needs like oxygen. More specifically, the role of the High Court was much more proactive in this regard; where the Court exercises its power of Judicial review under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution to issue Notices and guidelines to the State and the Central government.

For example, in the case of Delhi, which was severely hit by the second wave and oxygen supply was in shortfall, the High Court took cognisance of the matter and warned the Central Government of contempt if the government failed to comply with the guidelines.

Judicial activism in Covid-related matter is not limited to one High Court. Matters like these were being heard in almost every High Court. For example, the Jharkhand High Court issued a strong statement against the State Government regarding to non-availability of oxygen support beds in the hospitals, where the Chief Justice of the High Court went on to say, “The situation of the state is pathetic.

The Chief Justice instructed the State government to follow the direction issued by the Court. The Madras High Court, in its strong observation against the Central government, sought a response from the Central government about their Covid management plan and asked what they have been doing for 14 months.

The Indian High Courts have also taken a strong view against the Election Commission, which failed to comply with Covid-related guidelines in the election rallies, which eventually went onto be a super spreader event. In one of the matters before the Madras High Court where it made a serious observation against the EC for allowing political rallies during the pandemic, the Court said, “Why shouldn’t the officers of the Election Commission be booked on murder charges?” A similar observation was made by the Calcutta High Court, which said, “The Election Commission has failed to implement Covid Guidelines.”

It is to be noted that during the early surge of the Covid cases, much of the Judicial activism was seen from High Courts, but now, the Supreme Court has also taken crucial steps to counter the Covid crisis in the country. Presently, certain important matters concerning the Covid crisis are being heard by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

These include the issue of the pricing of the Covid vaccine and exercising of power under the Patent Act over vaccines and medicine. Dealing with the matter of oxygen shortage in the country, the Supreme Court set up a 12-member National Task  Force to guide the Central government for the allocation of medical oxygen.

The situation that is said to be the worst humanitarian crisis of India after the Partition of 1947 where millions of Indians were infected and the thousands succumbed to the virus the country, finds itself in the verge of collapsing health care system. During such times of crises, when the country is dealing with its ineffective bureaucracy, the Indian Judiciary has come forward to protect citizens by exercising its power vested under the Indian Constitution. Indian judicial activism has boosted hope among the masses as the country finds itself fighting against the pandemic.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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