Ending speculation of soon inducting two new faces in the Punjab cabinet, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday said he would wait till the appeals filed by former ministers, Bibi Jagir Kaur and Tota Singh, against their conviction in separate cases, were disposed of, before taking a decision.
Several senior SAD MLAs including, chief parliamentary secretaries, have been eyeing the portfolios of the two ministers following their conviction. "I am waiting for the court verdict on the appeals filed by these former ministers," Badal said. "I will take a final call on appointing any other MLA as minister after disposal of these cases by the court."
On being asked whether it was prudent to keep two ministerial positions vacant while 'delays' were possible in the disposal of cases, Badal said in certain instances courts expeditiously decided on the cases.
Both convicted leaders are considered to be the CM's close confidants. Badal, also the SAD patron, is yet to take any action against them at the party level.
Asked whether the SAD would ask Bibi Jagir Kaur to resign as Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member as she was convicted of her daughter's forcible abortion, which is against Sikh principles, Badal evaded a reply, saying that instead that the court's decision on her appeal would be taken into account before considering the issue of 'morality'.
"There are instances when a lower court pronounced the death sentence on an accused, and this was later set aside by the higher court," Badal said. "Let the courts first decide these convictions in finality. I will take the call accordingly."
A CBI court had sentenced Bibi Jagir Kaur to five years of rigorous imprisonment after finding her guilty of forcible abortion, wrongful confinement, abduction and criminal conspiracy.
Kaur, the first woman SGPC chief, had to resign from the cabinet, but Badal has preferred to keep her portfolios of rural water supply and sanitation, and defence services welfare with himself for the past two months. Later, agriculture minister Tota Singh had to quit his post after he was convicted by the court of misusing his official vehicle. Badal kept Tota Singh's portfolio with himself too.