HC notice to punjab agri minister tota singh, badal


Acting on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the Punjab and Haryana High Court here on Monday issued notices to Agriculture Minister Tota Singh, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the state government seeking the Ministers removal from his post in connection with an alleged insecticide scandal.

A division bench comprising Justices S K Mittal and Shekhar Dhawan issued notices on a PIL filed by Sukhjeet Singh, a resident of Moga. The notice is returnable for January 22.

The petitioner alleged that Tota Singh was convicted on May 5, 2012 under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in a case pertaining to misuse of a car belonging to the Punjab School Education Board and was sentenced to one years rigorous imprisonment.

Subsequently, his remaining period of sentence was suspended by the HC and he was released on bail.

The petitioners counsel submitted before the bench that Tota Singh had resigned from cabinet following his conviction but was taken back after about a year and is now a cabinet minister holding portfolio of Agriculture.

The petitioner further submitted that recently an alleged scandal pertaining to purchase of insecticides, which led to damage to cotton crop in Punjab, had taken place in the Agriculture Department and one Mangal Singh Sidhu, Director, along with two other Joint Directors, has been named accused and arrested.

Impartial investigation cannot be conducted in this case by the SIT of Punjab Police constituted for investigating this case so long as Tota Singh is a minister.

Thus, investigation into this scam is required to be conducted by an independent agency like CBI, the petitioner contended.

The counsel for the petitioner argued that a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had held in a 2014 case that the PM, as well as CMs, should avoid taking into cabinet persons with criminal antecedents, against whom charges have been framed, particularly for heinous offences, including corruption.

The counsel further contended that if a public servant cannot be retained in service if he is convicted for corruption, then a person, convicted for graft, should not have any right to continue as a cabinet minister.

Thus, CM Parkash Singh Badal should be directed to remove Tota Singh from his Cabinet, the petitioner contended.