Taking note of a picture in an English daily of school children hanging preariously from footboards and windows of government buses, Madras High court today directed the Tamil Nadu government to consider operating special busses exclusively for them. The first bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice R Hemalatha gave the direction on a suo motu plea initiated by the court. The issue was brought to the court's notice last week by a lawyer R Y George William, who sought immediate intervention of the court to ensure safety of school going children. The court then initiated suo motu proceedings and directed the state transport department to file its reply. In the affidavit filed today,the transport secretary said here are eight transport corporations in the state,operating 20,776 buses and carrying 1.93 crore passengers, including school/college children every day. The bench took note of it and said the buses were obviously not sufficient to meet the demand of the people, as evident from the photograph, on the basis of which the proceedings were initiated. "It is said that the government has extended 100 per cent free travel to school children in transport corporation buses. This was absolutely imperative to give meaningful effect to the right to education under Article 21A of the Constitution of India." "However, merely providing free transport is not enough.
The authorities concerned are also required to ensure the safety of children travelling in such buses, the court said. The court said there can be no doubt that children tend to be adventurous, naughty and sometimes try to travel on foot boards or dangerously hang out of windows as a show of bravado. However, the photograph clearly showed that the bus was already packed. It said the number of buses exclusively for children in school hours has to be increased. other people might only be allowed to board the buses if there is sufficient space after the children are accommodated If there was demand from children, the passengers would have to get down to make room for them, the court said. apart from this, the transport authority should also ensure that children do not board overcrowded buses in a risky manner, the bench said and disposed of the plea.
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