A division bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday recused itself from hearing the matter related to the Moga incident in which a 13-year-old girl had died after being thrown off a moving bus by her molesters.
When the matter was put up before the division bench of justice Satish Kumar Mittal and justice Harinder Singh Sidhu on Monday, they said it be referred to a bench of which one of them (justice Sidhu) is not a member. Justice Sidhu was posted as additional advocate general of Punjab before being elevated as high court judge. The matter now will be listed again before an appropriate bench after the acting CJ assigns it.
The high court had taken suo-motu cognizance of a letter from a senior citizen after the girl had died on Wednesday night after being allegedly thrown off the bus that belongs to the Orbit Aviation company owned chiefly by the Badals, who are Punjab’s ruling family. Sources in the court said that the senior citizen had written to the court based on newspaper reports about the incident.
Taking note of the letter received on the administrative side, the high court directed that it be placed on the judicial side before the bench hearing petitions filed in public interest. The bus conductor is alleged to be part of the group that threw off the girl and her mother after they resisted molestation attempts. The victim’s father had demanded security, citing threat to the family.
Panel sought for permit distribution
A lawyer has written to the chief secretary to ask for a committee led by a retired high court judge that would distribute bus-route permits between public and private transport companies in Punjab and determine the fares of luxury/business class and air-conditioned buses. The lawyer, HC Arora, wrote that the six or so private companies that operated buses within Punjab and from the state to other stations were owned by people occupying seats of power in the state and central governments; and so transparency was required in the distribution of route permits to companies such as Indo-Canadian and Orbit Aviation.
AAP files request to be heard
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) through its state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, has moved an application requesting the Punjab and Haryana high court to hear the AAP through him in the Moga molestation and murder case. Arguing that the victim was “Punjab’s Nirbhaya”, the AAP has requested that Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal be also put under trial, just as the owner of the bus in the Delhi gangrape case was tried. The AAP has requested for a judicial inquiry monitored closely by the court, since the bus company is owned by the deputy CM.