The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday asked the Chandigarh administration to notify the Safe School Vahan Policy for the transportation of schoolchildren within two months.
The single-judge bench of justice Rajive Bhalla also directed stakeholders, including city schools and transporters, to submit their objections, if any, within 10 days.
After much pursuance from the high court, the draft for the policy was put in the public domain by the administration recently. However, due to pressure from some city schools, the draft didn’t include the clause of deployment of transgenders in school buses.
The high court bench came down heavily on the administration saying that for over a decade, the UT administration was sitting over it and said it was schools which had prevented the administration from notifying the policy.
As the UT’s counsel, Vishal Sodhi, told the court that there were objections from certain schools on the inclusion of transgenders as attendants in school buses, the high court bench said the schools and others should submit their objections within 10 days. “You are giving reservation to even miniscule amongst the population. Why you have problem with it? They are marginal section. Those who are opposing, let them come to the court,” the high court bench observed asking the administration to finalise the policy and consider inclusion of transgenders as attendants in school buses.
The high court bench was also appalled over the submissions by one of the counsel representing some schools of UT, whereby they are shying from taking responsibility of monitoring the data of GPS system and keep record of CCTV footage in buses. “It is no more a charitable system. It is a business model now. In getting requisite footfall, you have to have a transport system,” the high court bench observed further stating that transportation was primary responsibility of the schools and instead of hesitation amongst them, they themselves should have come forward.
The high court bench observed that the city schools were “influential part” in the city’s system and also blamed them for sitting over plan for several years. “You have prevented the administration from finalising a policy. Should we find out where secretary education, secretary finance and adviser’s wards were studying,” the high court bench observed as one of the counsel appearing for schools blamed the parents for not adhering to safety norms.
Counsels have also been asked to study affiliation norms of the schools by high court bench to find out as to what action could be taken against them in case violations (regarding transportation) were found. The high court bench also advised the schools to have special sessions on safety of children in school buses for parents in the monthly parent teachers’ meeting.