Convicted Punjab minister quits, resignation accepted

Last Updated: Wed, May 09, 2012 12:20 hrs

Chandigarh, May 9 (IANS) Punjab Agriculture Minister Tota Singh's resignation was accepted by Governor Shivraj Patil Wednesday, four days after he was convicted and sentenced to a year's imprisonment by a court in Mohali.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had Wednesday accepted and forwarded to the governor for immediate acceptance the resignation of the minister, who was convicted for misusing an official car and forging the log book.

Tota Singh was Saturday found guilty by a vigilance court in Mohali town, 10 km from here, in a case of misuse of official machinery. The court sentenced him to one year's imprisonment and imposed a penalty of Rs.30,000. He was allowed bail by the same court immediately.

The minister was charged with misusing the official car of the Punjab School Education Board and forging the log book of the vehicle.

The chief minister had said Tuesday that Tota Singh had offered to resign Saturday after the court verdict but he had told him to wait.

An official release from the state government said Wednesday that Tota Singh had "stepped down as cabinet minister on moral grounds following his conviction by the Mohali court".

The agriculture department will now be looked after by the chief minister himself till further orders.

The minister is likely to move the Punjab and Haryana high court against his conviction.

Tota Singh, who was education minister (1997-2002) in the Punjab government, was inducted as a cabinet minister in the Parkash Singh Badal government in March this year.

He had been booked and arrested by the Punjab vigilance department in June 2002 on charges of forgery and having disproportionate assets.

His name had figured in a scam regarding the recruitment of clerks in the education department.

He was booked and arrested in 2002 when the Congress government led by chief minister Amarinder Singh came to power in the state.

The conviction and sentencing of Tota Singh is the second embarrassment for the Badal government in the last five weeks.

Then cabinet minister Jagir Kaur was convicted by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Patiala town March 30. Kaur was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment on counts of forcible extortion, wrongful confinement, abduction and criminal conspiracy in the mysterious death of her daughter, Harpreet Kaur, in April 2000.

However, she was absolved of the charges of murder of her daughter. Three others were also convicted by the court in the case.

She was forced to resign as Punjab's minister for rural water supply and sanitation and defence services after her conviction and arrest.

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