Two months after the death of a teenage girl, who was molested and thrown off a moving bus in Moga, the Punjab transport department has failed to take any action against the bus operator — Orbit Aviation Private Limited.
The regional transport authority (RTA), Patiala, had recently issued a show-cause notice to Rajdeep Bus Company threatening to cancel its permit citing the involvement of its bus in a molestation case registered at Khanna police station on May 3.
No such notice has been issued to the Orbit Aviation despite its bus involved in a more gruesome case.
What makes the government inaction more glaring is the fact that the Punjab and Haryana high court had during a hearing on May 19 asked Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal to disclose what action the government had taken against the bus operator.
The court had observed that even if criminal liability could not be fixed against the operator, other action (cancelling or suspending permit) of the operator could have been taken.
Transport authorities in Bathinda said the government did not initiate any action against Orbit Aviation as the matter was sub judice. “The HC is hearing the case…the matter is sub judice,” said RTA Bathinda Damanjit Singh Maan.
Legal experts, however, said the transport department was adopting double standards.
HC Arora, a Punjab and Haryana high court lawyer, said: “It’s not a sub judice matter. If the government can issue a show- cause notice to Rajdeep Bus Company, the same rule should apply to others.”
After the Moga incident, Arora had sent a legal notice to the Punjab chief secretary and the transport department, seeking cancellation of permits of buses involved in molestation case. In his notice, Arora cited a Supreme Court judgment which says: “Where any incident of eve-teasing is committed in a public service vehicle either by passengers or the persons in-charge of the vehicle, the crew of such vehicle shall, on a complaint made by the aggrieved persons, take such vehicle to the nearest police station and give information to the police. Failure to do so should lead to cancellation of the permit to ply. “
As per the order issued by the RTA, Patiala, (a copy is in possession of HT) an FIR had been registered against the bus for alleged molestation of a woman in the bus that was a violation of Motor Vehicle Act 1989.
“The yardstick should be same for everyone. In both cases, allegations of molestation in bus are there. Both cases are similar in nature, but the transport department is following a pickand-choose policy,” says Rajiv Shardha, former assistant advocate general Punjab. Shardha is dealing with transport cases these days.