HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

Two new Punjab ministers have controversial past

IANS  Chandigarh, June 09, 2014
First Published: 19:18 IST(9/6/2014) | Last Updated: 19:19 IST(9/6/2014)

Two of the three new ministers being inducted by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in his cabinet on Tuesday have had a controversial past and were even convicted by courts.
These two ministers, Tota Singh and Sohan Singh Thandal, will be sworn-in by Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil Tuesday. The third minister to be inducted in the Badal ministry is Daljeet Singh Cheema, a doctor by profession.
Tota Singh was forced to resign from the Badal government May 2012 just two months after being sworn-in after a court in Mohali convicted him in a case of misuse of official machinery.
The court sentenced him to one year's imprisonment. It had also imposed a penalty of Rs.30,000 on him.
Thandal resigned as chief parliamentary secretary in the then Badal government (2007-2012) after being convicted and sentenced to three years' imprisonment and a fine of Rs.25,000 by a court in Mohali for owning assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Both Tota Singh and Thandal later appealed against their conviction in the high court and got some relief.
Thandal was booked by the state vigilance bureau in January 2003 under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly accumulating assets disproportionate to his known sources of income during the Akali Dal government of 1997-2002.
A three-time legislator (1997, 2002 and 2007), Thandal is considered close to the chief minister.
Tota Singh was Punjab's agriculture minister when he was forced to quit in 2012. The minister was charged with misusing the official car of the Punjab School Education Board and forging the log book of the vehicle.
Tota Singh, who was earlier education minister (1997-2002) in the Badal cabinet, was booked and arrested by the Punjab vigilance department in June 2002 on charges of forgery and having assets  disproportionate to his known sources of income. His name had figured in a scam regarding the recruitment of clerks in the education department.
Three slots of ministers were lying vacant in the Badal government.

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