To consider issuing free bus passes to government law college students in Tamil Nadu.

The Madras High Court bench here on Thursday directed the Principal Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Transport Department to consider issuing free bus passes to students of government law colleges in the State.

A division bench comprising Justices N. Paul Vasanthakumar and P. Devadass issued the direction while disposing of a public interest litigation filed by V. Thisai Indiran, a student of Government Law College, Madurai.

In his petition, Mr. Indiran claimed that more than 45 per cent of the students in his college were from an economically disadvantaged background.

The college had students from Ramanathapuram, Virudhunagar, Sivagangai, Dindigul and Theni districts, who spent Rs 50 to Rs 300 every day to reach the college, he added.

The State government in 1990 launched a free bus pass scheme for school students and then extended it to college students in 2007, he claimed.

The scheme benefitted the students in schools, arts colleges, engineering colleges and industrial training institutes, but not the law college students, he alleged in his petition.

According to Mr. Indiran, excluding the law college students from the welfare scheme amounted to violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

The total number of law students in Tamil Nadu was less than 10,000, he claimed.

By including them in the welfare scheme the government would suffer no financial loss, he added.

He further claimed that he had submitted a representation to the Principal Secretary of the Transport Department on August 8, 2013 seeking free bus passes for law students, but no action was taken.

Therefore, he moved the court.

The government advocate in his submission confirmed that the free bus pass scheme covered arts and engineering students, but did not cover law students. The judges, in their order, observed that the State should have considered the inclusion of law students in the welfare scheme.

“A majority of the students in law colleges come from an economically poor background. Why has the State not included them in the welfare scheme? Not issuing free bus passes to law students amounts to discriminating them from the arts and the engineering students”, they observed.

The judges directed the principal secretary of the Tamil Nadu Transport Department to consider the petitioner’s representation and pass an appropriate order within two weeks.