A day after contraceptives were found in the first-aid kit of a private school bus, fourth such incident in the recent past, during an inspection by the Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the panel has recommended a penalty of Rs 10,000 against the institution. The commission had also summoned the school authorities on Wednesday.
The child rights panel officials shared that the school authorities had no relevant explanation and cut a sorry figure during the meeting held at the commission’s office on Wednesday evening.
Devi Sirohi, president of the commission, said, “The school has submitted a written apology and they are sorry for whatever has happened. However, we have recommended a penalty of ‘10,000 and will be forwarding the letter to the State Transport Authority, Chandigarh, as they have to implement the same. We have recommended action within our powers as per the high court directive.” She said if such violations were found in future, the action could be stricter.
State Transport Authority secretary Kashish Mittal said, “ We will examine the matter and take necessary action as per the law.” Additional secretary Rajiv Tewari said, “The State Transport Authority is governed by the Motor Vehicles Act. However, if the child rights panel has suggested action against the erring school, we will definitely implement it. Though, we are yet to receive the order or written instructions from the panel.”
As per clause 15 of the Protection of Child Rights Act 2004, the Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights is entitled to hold an inquiry in such situations and take suo motu notice or any other action it may deem fit against a person or group of persons in case of any violation. As per the Act, “..In case an inquiry discloses the violation of child rights is of serious nature or contravention of prosecution of any law for the time being enforced, it may recommend to the concerned government or authority the initiation of proceedings for prosecution or other such action, the commission may deem fit.” Referring to the same, Sirohi said, “According to the commission, contraceptives found in school buses is a serious offence and hence the action has been recommended after consecutive warnings in the previous instances.”
Manjit Singh, president of the transport bus contractors’ body, said, “We weren’t issued any directions earlier. Now that we have been issued instructions we will be cautious. This is simply dates back to the time when the traffic police would check trucks and ask them to carry contraceptives. So, the first-aid boxes already have contraceptives in them and the bus drivers didn’t check that. Children aren’t aware of contraceptives in the first-aid boxes.”
The child rights panel also inspected buses of two more schools -Sri Guru Harkrishan Senior Secondary Public School and St Peter’s Senior Secondary School - on Wednesday and observed minor violations and took note of the same. A total of six buses were checked and violations such as lack of proper emergency exit, no police verification of female attendants, etc. were found.