The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday sought responses from Punjab deputy chief minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal and the state government on an application filed alleging "conflict of interest" as the ruling Badal family owned transport firms in the state.
The division bench of justice Hemant Gupta and Lisa Gill, issued notices on the application filed by two amicus curiae, RS Bains and HC Arora, who had submitted that family had shares in various transport firms having routes across the state. Such conflict of interest was bound to arise when certain persons in power also own the fleets of buses and compete with public transport, both the lawyers told reporters after the hearing.
The high court was hearing two petitions on an incident, wherein, on April 29 a girl got killed after she along with her mother were thrown out of bus moving bus owned by Orbit Aviation Private Limited, owned by Badal family. The incident took place in Moga. One petition was of suo motu note taken by the high court and another by a private respondent seeking Central Bureau of Investigation probe.
The advocate duo had submitted that the share of the Badal family increased from 2 percent to 21 percent and share of other private transport firms decreased from 38 percent to 29 percent, since 2007, when the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government took over reins in the state. It has also been stated that since then the state undertakings had been sinking and incurring huge losses. "How it has been achieved is a question that needs to be scrutinized and solution found to prevent it as it nullifies the oath of office and constitution.
It is quite apparent that this has been used by exercise of power of the cabinet minister by change of policy, by change of taxation and by colourable exercise of power," the application filed reads.
The court has been told further stating that also running the Punjab government where public sector transport is in loss and private sector transport is flourishing. into power in Punjab in 2007, , During the hearing of the case before the division bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Lisa Gill.
The high court has now directed both the amicus curiae and others assisting the court in this case to frame questions by the next date of hearing, which would largely deal with issue of "policy, taxation and law" with respect to this incident and other issues involved.
Court questions Govt. on compensation to family
The high court also questioned the government on the grant given to the victim family by the government.
Advocate general (AG), Punjab, Ashok Aggarwal told the court that Rs 5.55 lakh was sanctioned as to provide monetary relief to the family, out of which only Rs 4.61 lakh has been paid under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules. The state sought more time to clarify on the full compensation given to the family. The court asked the AG whether the state government had checked before sanctioning the amount whether the accused in the case were from SC, ST category or not. As AG feigned ignorance, the court, directed him to file detailed reply on the next date on September 2.
Meanwhile to high court notice, the Central Bureau of Investigation has refused to probe theMoga molestation incident. In its reply filed on Thursday the central government agency has submitted that the issue did not have inter-sate ramifications.