The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday issued a notice to Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, his wife Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal among others on an application demanding probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the Moga bus incident.
The high court order came on an application filed by SAS Nagar-based lawyer Jasdeep Singh Bains seeking directions to provide security in public transport buses and installation of CCTV cameras. The petitioner argued whether the deputy chief minister and his wife, being co-owner of the transport company — Orbit Aviation — could be made accused in the case as was done in the Delhi rape case of December 2012.
Notices have also been issued to the CBI, Centre and the Punjab government.
The high court division bench comprising of justice Hemant Gupta and justice Lisa Gill was hearing a petition on Moga molestation incident. The high court also asked Punjab to submit shareholding pattern of stage carriage operators owning more than 10 buses. The government has also been told to supply details of all contract carriage permit buses, produce a first information report (FIR) into the Moga incident and details of criminal cases registered against stage carriage permit holders in the past one year. All the details are to be given by next date of hearing on May 27.
It was on April 29 when a 13-year-old girl along with her mother were thrown off a moving bus of Orbit Aviation, a company owned by the ruling Badals. The girl, who was allegedly molested, later succumbed to the injuries.
As the hearing began on Tuesday, senior advocate Girish Agnihotri appeared on behalf of Orbit Aviation and sought more time to file a reply on behalf of the transport company. During the hearing, the amicus curiae in the case, advocate RS Bains, pointed that details of all the bus operators have not been revealed in an affidavit filed by the state government last week, wherein it was told that state had 3,543 private buses and 2,508 government-run buses.
During the hearing, the high court asked advocate general of Punjab Ashok Aggarwal as to what action the government had taken against the bus operator in the case to which Aggarwal said he would have to check.
The court observed that even if criminal liability was not to be fixed against the operator, other action (cancelling or suspending permit) of the operator could have been taken. What action could be taken as per the condition of the stage carriage permit and law, the high court asked the Aggarwal.
Aggarwal submitted that details of shareholding pattern being sought by the court were available on the government website. “Do you want the court to go to the website and check details,” the bench said, asking him to furnish details.
During the hearing, it was also pointed out that some buses were running without valid permits. Another amicus curiae in the case HC Arora gave example of the Khanna bus molestation incident reported recently, wherein it came to light that the bus was plying without a valid permit.
The court also asked the government about the progress of investigation into the incident and directed the state to carry out the same with diligence.