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School transport: Punjab and Haryana High Court disposes of PIL pointing out irregularities

The Punjab and Haryana High Court disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)  pointing out several irregularities in the implementation of Surakshit School Vahan Policy, dated 30.01.2014 , and for fixing responsibility of officials, who are responsible for the lapses therein.

Balraj Gujjar, the counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the policy is for providing safe and secure transportation services to school-going children. He, however, submitted that on account of certain lapses, two unfortunate incidents occurred resulting in the death of some school-going children.

Pursuant to the notice issued by the High Court, Samarth Sagar, Additional Advocate General, Haryana, filed several status reports, indicating steps taken by State authorities for proper implementation of the policy and for taking action against the violators. He submitted that in respect of the unfortunate incidents mentioned by the petitioner in the petition, criminal proceedings have already been initiated, which are pending.

The other respondents have also filed their separate replies, bringing on record the steps taken by them to ensure proper implementation of the policy.  

At this stage, the Additional Advocate General, Haryana, submitted that though the latest status report is ready with him, however, he could not file it in the Registry. He prayed for and was granted permission to file the same in the Registry. He, while referring to the said status report, submits that under the policy, a checking team has been constituted, along with a Technical Expert, Motor Vehicles Inspector and other representatives, i.e. Police Officers, District Education Officers etc., to inspect school buses by visiting school premises instead of routes followed by the buses, so that children do not suffer unnecessary harassment. 

It is also submitted that on inspection, those who have been found defaulting or violating the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act and the policy, have been challaned, and details of challans of school transport vehicles between 01.01.2020 to 31.11.2022. He further submitted the authorities are continuously monitoring the issue and are taking all possible remedial measures.   

In view of the statement made of the Additional Advocate General, Haryana, the present petition was disposed of by the Division Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli. 

However, liberty is granted by the High Court to the petitioner to take up fresh proceedings with the respondent authorities by filing a comprehensive complaint/representation, in case it feels that there are certain other aspects that need to be addressed to or any default is still being committed by the schools or other authorities in the implementation of the policy.

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