The court of additional session judge Lakhwinder Kaur Duggal on Monday acquitted all the four suspects in the infamous Orbit bus molestation death case of Moga citing ‘lack of evidence’. On April 29, 2015, a 13-year old girl Arshdeep Kaur had died after she was allegedly molested and pushed out of the moving bus with her mother Shinder Kaur. The bus belonged to Orbit Transport Company, co-owned by former Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal.
The court on Monday acquitted all the four suspects — the bus driver Ranjit Singh, conductor Sukhwinder Singh alias Pamma and helpers, Amar Ram and Gurdeep Singh — who were booked in FIR for murder, molestation and SC/ST Act on the statement of Shinder Kaur, mother of the girl and a co-victim.
The prime witnesses in the case- Shinder Kaur (mother) and Akashdeep (brother) of the girl, who was accompanying her in the bus that day, had turned hostile in the court during testing of witnesses. The mother even failed to identify the four of them and said she ‘does not remember anything’. The father Sukhdev Singh also turned hostile saying he does not remember what happened with his wife and daughter. The brother Akashdeep, who is a minor, just said that he remembers his mother and sister being pushed out of the bus but cannot identify the persons. On February 9 last year, the mother also refused to identify the four suspects who were also present in the courtroom and claimed that she never met them adding that there was ‘no molestation with either two of them’ and that she ‘does not remember if they were pushed off the bus.’
In her earlier statements to Moga police during registration of FIR the mother alleged that ‘duo was molested with obscene language and gestures and then pushed out’ from the Orbit bus.
The incident led to nationwide outrage and the opposition then led by the Congress demanded closure of ‘Badal’s transport businesses. The victim was cremated following widespread protests and family agreed for cremation after getting Rs 24 lakh as compensation and promise of a government job for the father.
The incident had even forced Sukhbir Badal to take off his buses from roads for few days and the staff undergoing an etiquettes course on how to talk to women passengers.
Anup Inder Singh Sekhon and Ramandeep Singh Aulakh, counsels for the suspects, said that the court acquitted four of them due to ‘lack of evidence’. “The prosecution failed to produce enough evidences against our clients and the court acquitted four of them,” they said adding that the prime witnesses including girl’s family failed to support the case against the suspects with their statements.
The then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had also constituted an enquiry commission led by Justice VK Bali which also submitted its report to the department of home affairs in 2016 but without finding any evidence against the suspects as all the witnesses turned hostile.