Responding to a petition by School Bus Owners Association,the Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to stay the implementation of additional safety regulations for school buses. The court had earlier refused to stay the regulations on September 4.
In June,the SBOA had moved the court demanding that the March 22,2011,notification that lays down the new safety conditions be stayed. In its petition,the association also seeks a directive from the court to the transport department to grant permits and fitness certificates to school buses that were registered before the notification was issued.
The SBOA has expressed its objection to several provisions in the notification,including requirements of an attendant inside the buses,requirement of two entrances and the maximum age of the vehicles.
A Division Bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and A A Sayed said,The paramount concern is the welfare of the children. When parents send their children to school in a school bus,they trust that they will be safe in the bus.
The court also asked the SBOA to approach the state government with their concerns regarding mechanical difficulties on account of the use of speed governors. The SBOA had told the court that the installation of the devices would affect optimum utilisation of fuel. The regulation about speed governors was put in place through a notification passed in March.
The SBOA had gone on strike on March 9 citing frequent changes in the norms governing the buses. However,the strike ended the same day.
Anil Garg,SBOA (Mumbai) president said,There are many unclear clauses in the safety guidelines. The court has asked us to discuss the matter among ourselves. If the state transport department disagrees with our view,we can approach the court again. Our main concern is that our buses should not be denied fitness certificates till the matter is resolved. We are planning to meet the transport commissioner (of the state government) on Friday.
The issue of safety norms in school buses gained significance after a series of accidents involving school buses. In November last year,a nine- year old boy was killed after he stuck his head out of a school bus window and hit a metal advertising board. In August,a student of Ryan International School died after his own school bus ran him over in Kharghar.