Coming down heavy on the UT administration for not having a policy to govern the functioning of school buses, the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the administration to frame a policy concerning school buses at the earliest. Taking a suo moto notice of the lack of data on the working of the buses, the court warned the UT education department that “in case, a policy is not framed and notified within a fortnight, there would be no option but to seek the explanation and the presence of the secretary transport and DPI (schools).”
The administration has been directed by the court to file a complete list of the vehicles operating 107 government schools, 73 unaided private schools and seven aided private schools functioning in the UT.
Acting on the court’s order, the education department has asked the heads of all the government/ government-aided/unaided private recognised schools to send a complete list of school buses along with their registration numbers to the department by Thursday. A senior officer said the department will then compile the data and send the information to the high court by September 7.
Commenting on the issue, director of public instructions (DPI) (schools) Rubinderit Singh Brar said “We are looking into the matter but as of now are focus is on receiving all the details from the various schools. As for not having any policy for school buses, that is something the secretary transport will be able to explain best.” The secretary transport was, however, not available for comment.
Schools to submit details
The schools have been asked to send the following details to the education department by Thursday.
1) Number of school buses plying
2) Registration number of the vehicle with a photocopy of the permit
3) Whether buses are owned by schools or arranged through transporters
4) Transport fees charged per month from the students prior to installation of CCTV cameras, GPS systems, and for providing a female attendant(s) in school buses.
5) Whether there is an increase in the transport fees after July 2015 for installing CCTV cameras, GPS systems and for providing a female attendant (s) in school buses. If yes, the exact amount charged from the students per month
6) Whether character verification of the bus drivers/conductors have been carried out or not.
Safety of children
A notice will also be issued to the State Level Child Welfare Committee to file its response regarding the safety of children being transported in school buses.
In this regard, the DPI Chandigarh and general manager, CTU are to file their affidavits disclosing the number of school children being transported in CTU buses and in case, children are no longer being transported, reasons therefore and the name of the officer who taken this decision.