The Haryana government on Monday told the Punjab and Haryana high court that it has banned use of school buses for political rallies.
State additional chief secretary Ram Niwas, in an affidavit, told the court that instructions have been issued to all concerned in this regard.
He said that forcing managements to send their buses for rallies was against the statutory provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.
“Under the said Act, permits are granted for specific purposes and for the specified routes. In case any incident, the insurance companies can also not be held liable. Moreover, interest of students cannot be compromised by adopting such coercive methods,” he said.
The additional chief secretary also told the court that any lapse on the part of persons concerned would be viewed seriously and action would be taken against the erring officials.
The response came in a contempt petition in which on February 13, the court had put Ram Niwas on notice on a plea by the Federation of Private Schools Welfare Association, Haryana, alleging that they were being forced to provide buses to ferry supporters for political rallies, causing disturbance to students’ studies.
The practice of using school buses for political rallies had been going on for the past many years under governments of all political parties. Such practice not only interfered in the dispensation of education to children but was also against the law, the petitioner had argued.
Petitioner’s counsel Pankaj Maini said that in view of the government instructions, the matter has been disposed of by the high court bench of justice Jaswant Singh.
After the hearing on Monday, association president Kulbhushan Sharma said that they would approach the Supreme Court so that similar instructions were issued by all state governments.