A court here sentenced Joginder Pal Jain, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) MLA from Moga, along with his wife, two sons and daughter, to one-year jail for having raised an unauthorised residential colony, on Monday. They got bail immediately and have been given one month to appeal in the high court.
Jain, who is also chairman of the Punjab Warehousing Corporation, was a Congress MLA but jumped ship soon after the SAD-BJP won the 2012 assembly poll and won the Moga seat again in a byelection in 2013 on the SAD ticket. Observers had attributed his shift to his business interests and pending cases.
The court of additional chief judicial magistrate, while sentencing Jain, wife Sawaran Lata Jain, sons Akshit Jain and Punit Jain, and daughter Rohini Jain, also imposed a fine of Rs. 500 each.
The case was registered in August 2007 under the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995, at Mehna in Moga. The primary offence was of selling farmland as a colony in violation of Punjab Urban Planning and Development Act. Some basic infrastructure had even been built before the PUDA filed the case as part of a larger action against such colonies.
In October 2009, police filed the chargesheet. The case was shifted to Faridkot on the request of the MLA, who feared that the Akali Dal could influence the case. But that was before he shifted to SAD himself. As he turned Akali, on his request it was shifted back to Moga.
The sentencing gave ammunition to Jain’s former party Congress against the SAD-BJP government. Congress’ Vijay Sathi, who was defeated by Jain in the byelection, said Jain should resign as legislator and be thrown out of SAD.