• Himachal HC directs state to provide public toilets on all highway

    June 17, 2017

    Himachal Pradesh High Court while recognizing right to sanitation as fundamental right directs the state to provide public toilets on all public highways. A division bench of Justice Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma held that in the view of ever expanding definition of right to life as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India right to sanitation is a fundamental right like right to water, right to health, right to healthy environment, right to education and right to dignity are directly related to right of sanitation.  

    “Bare necessities of life include proper sanitation facilities as the practice of open defecation or a life with polluted drinking water source and environment cannot be considered as a life of dignity as understood in the context of right to life under the constitution.”

    Justice Sanjay Karol, while dealing in another case called for the status report of availability of various sanitary facilities, if any, on the National/State Highways in the state of Himachal Pradesh. As informed by the government, there are more than 500 buses plying daily in the state. Citizens travelling on the state/national Highways, need to be protected from open defecation, untreated disposal of waste into streams and contamination of water supplies, which would be caused by the heavy influx of tourists and lack of proper amenities in the state and hence the state needs take the requisite step and ensure the same.

    The court has issued the following directions-

    1. Construct public toilets at places which are easily located by the public at large.

    2. Display the sign board “Public toilets” or “Private Toilets” in this regard.

    3. Services should be provided for free in public toilets and can be chargeable in the private toilets.

    4. Facilities should have proper disposal system for disposal of sanitary napkins.

    5. Ensure safety and security of women.

    6. Authorities may consider making it mandatory for all the dhabas/restaurants on the highways to make public toilet.

    The bench also realized that the apart from this there is an urgent need to provide medical facilities at appropriate places on the highway. Provision of sanitation and medical facility will prove to be a boon for tourists.

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