The Bombay High Court Thursday asked the state if the central government’s definition of school vans was binding, or if Maharashtra could come up with its own definition. A bench headed by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the PTA United Forum, which claimed that children’s safety had been jeopardised because the state was not insisting upon a common standard agreement between the bus operator and the schools. The court, while hearing the matter on Thursday, said indiscriminate mushrooming of school vans should not be allowed, and the state should come out with some restrictions to avoid untoward incidents.
The High Court also highlighted the need to maintain vans properly especially during monsoon, to avoid spread of diseases among children. In an affidavit filed earlier, the state government had stated that a contract between the bus contractor and the school is mandatory if a bus is taken on contract by school authorities.
According to the government, the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles (Regulation for School Buses) Rules, 2011, has defined a school bus as a four-wheeler light motor vehicle having a seating capacity up to 12 and a three wheeler auto-rickshaw with hard top and closed type passenger body. “The definition is not contradictory with the definition included in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989,” stated the affidavit filed by the government.