In a major setback to the Parkash Singh Badal government, a special CBI court on Friday convicted Punjab cabinet minister and former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur and sentenced her to five years rigorous imprisonment for the illegal confinement and forceful abortion of her daughter Harpreet Kaur, who died under mysterious circumstances in 2000.
Bibi, 57, the first woman cabinet minister in Punjab to be convicted, was the only woman in the Badal cabinet.
The court, however, dropped murder charges against her and all other accused.A powerful MLA of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal from Bholath constituency and an SGPC member, Bibi broke down in court after hearing the verdict.
In charge of three portfolios — rural, water supply and sanitation; defence services welfare; and removal of grievances and welfare of pensioners — she resigned from the cabinet before being taken in judicial custody to Patiala jail.
She was later shifted to Kapurthala jail on her request.
Harpreet was reportedly in a relationship with Kamaljit Singh, a resident of Kapurthala district’s Begowal town where Bibi Jagir Kaur runs a dera. Bibi, who was then the president of the SGPC, the Sikhs highest body, was opposed to their marriage.
When she died on April 20, 2000, Harpreet was 19 years old, while Kamaljit was 21 (he is now 33), both members of the Lubana community.
Kamaljit approached the Punjab and Haryana high court, accusing Bibi of conspiring to murder Harpreet.
The case has been under trial since September 3, 2000, when the high court ordered a CBI probe into the death of Harpreet who was reportedly cremated in a hurry without any post-mortem.
According to the CBI, Harpreet was pregnant when she died of an overdose of phenobarbetone,an anti-convulsion drug also used to induce abortion.
April 20, 2000: Bibi Jagir Kaur's daughter Harpreet Kaur dies mysteriously; cremated a day later without post-mortem examination or inquest
April 27, 2000: Kamaljit Singh files petition in Punjab and Haryana high court, alleging that his wife Harpreet was murdered
September 2000: High court orders CBI probe into case October 2000: CBI arrests Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi and Paramjit Singh Raipur, a Phagwara-based couple, on the charges of forcible abortion, conspiring to murder and destruction of evidence
November 2008: Accused-turned approver Dr BS Sohal dies in road accident at Amritsar
March 17, 2012: Court completes trial
March 30: Bibi Jagir Kaur held guilty