HC directs 50 absent school mgmts to pay fine of Rs 10,000 each by 18th

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Dec 2017 10:03:39


Legal Correspondent,

In the suo motu PIl entertained by the High Court at its own initiative regarding need for proper maintenance of buses by the schools in the city and for issuing appropriate directions to 133 respondent -school managements, in the wake of the death of a school going child in Nandanwan area in the year 2010; annoyed with the 50 managements continuing to remain absent and not filing their appearances in the case, Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi have imposed fine of Rs 10,000 each of them payable by the next date December 18, 2017.

Other school managements and principals deposited a fine of Rs 5000 and furnished a PR bond of Rs 25,000 as directed by the High Court in the case dealing with apathy of school authorities in enforcing safety of school going kids. Majority of schools complied with directives issued on November 8 and filed reply along with fine, but 50 schools still failed and sought additional time to comply with the order.

During last hearings, the High Court had pulled the School Principals and Directors for not filing even a basic reply and had issued bailable warrant against 105 principals and directors directing them to first pay fine, secure bail by furnishing a PR bond of Rs 25,000 and also file reply. The High Court had pulled up the schools for not even responding to good suggestions mooted by transport authorities to ensure safety of children using school bus.

The High Court had expressed deep concern over apathy shown by many schools in Nagpur towards safety of school children travelling by school bus, and had imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 each for their failure to file even a reply. Many schools candidly admitted that second fitness test of buses deployed to transport their students was not conducted and promised to do so in time bound manner. About police verification of the staff employed by the bus operator, the Amicus Curiae Firdos Mirza had pointed out that following recent disturbing incidents, the schools must ensure proper verification of the staff deployed to run buses.

Following tragic death of Virath Zade, the State Transport department had convened meeting of all bus operators and other modes of transport and prescribed a set of stringent guidelines. Amicus Curiae Firdos Mirza had also suggested that school buses should have special sitting arrangement looking at the tender age of kids using it, minimum educational qualifications and proper training for drivers and conductors, fixed spot for students to enter and get down from such buses and periodic check-up of such buses.

High Court had also made it mandatory to form School Transport Committee in each School to be headed by Traffic Inspector and District level Monitoring Committee to be headed by RTO. But these directions were followed mostly in breach.

Thereafter, the High Court had issued notice to 138 schools in which students are using school bus facility and directed them to file reply so as to inform about compliance with earlier guidelines issued by High Court and State Transport department. During summer, out of 25,369 registered school buses, only 13,440 buses were subjected to fitness test while remaining 12,800 buses were plying without mandatory fitness test, Amicus Curiae pointed out while wondering as to why action was not being taken against them.

Additional GP Deepak Thakare represented the State. Several other lawyers held the brief for their respective client school managements.