The Bombay High Court has directed the state of Maharashtra to ensure that private vehicles that are allowed to ply as “school buses” carrying children come under the common standard agreement (CSA) guidelines.
The CSA is an agreement entered upon between the school authorities, parents and teachers’ associations on one side and owners of vehicles plying for the purpose of transporting students to schools on the other side.
Under the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles (Regulations for School Buses) Rules, 2011, applicants for permit to ply as for the purpose of transportation of school children have to enclose a copy of the common standard agreement with the school and the list of children proposed to be transported by the said motor vehicle.
These vehicles have to follow certain guidelines like install fire extinguishers, grill on windows, GPS etc.
Petitioner PTA United Forum’s counsel Rafeeq Peermohideen and Rama Subramaniam submitted before the bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice GS Kulkarni that definition of a school bus in the latest notification issued by Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is of a vehicle that can carry more than 13 children.
However, following an amendment in the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles (Regulations for School Buses) Rules 2011, state the Transport department started giving permit to private vehicles, mini vans etc. that carry a maximum of 12 passengers.
Petitioners contended that the Transport department indiscriminately issues permits to these private vehicles for plying as transportation meant for school children without ensuring compliance with the said Rules.
Taking a tough stand against any such violation of Rules, the court said: “We direct the concerned department of respondents to look into such grievance raised in the matter and to see that proper care and caution is exercised to avoid or to stop such vehicles which do not come within the Common Standard Agreement guidelines.”
Read the Order here.