Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government to implement the rules pertaining to school buses in letter and spirit. The high court, while asking the government to submit a compliance report before it, also suggested it should launch awareness campaigns in each district to ensure that the rules, as laid down, are complied with.
A division bench of Justices Naresh Patil and Girish Kulkarni clarified that though the vans which ferry children are not permissible under the state and central rules, in case they are allowed by the government to continue, they have to comply with the rules. This comes after Government Pleader Abhinandan Vagyani informed the judges that the government had no option but to allow small vans to continue ferry children. He said that there were several areas where buses could not go and thus, parents were compelled to send their children in school vans.
It may be noted that as per the rules, any vehicle which has more than 13 seats, can only ferry children. The rules further impose certain conditions like the mandatory presence of a woman attendant on the board and a first-aid kit. Having noted the submissions advanced by Vagyani, the judges clarified that vans could only be allowed to ferry in exceptional cases and there too, the vans would have to implement the rules. The judges have also asked the government to consider eliminating these vans in a phased manner. The judges were hearing a PIL filed through Advocate Rama Subramanian, seeking implementation of the rules laid down for regulation of school buses. The matter has now been posted for further hearing after two weeks.