The state government has told the Punjab and Haryana high court that law does not bar a chief minister (CM) from appointing a person with criminal antecedents as a minister.
The submissions were made in a public interest litigation (PIL), filed by Congress leader Sukhjeet Singh, in which he sought the removal of agriculture minister Tota Singh on the ground that he was convicted for corruption in 2012.
Referring to a Supreme Court judgment of 2014, the Punjab government said: “The judgment in BR Kapur’s case does not prohibit the chief minister from appointing any person as a minister, merely on the account of his criminal antecedents.” The government counsel further argued that while the SC judgment was delivered in August, 2014, Tota Singh was inducted into the state cabinet in June 2014.
The high court had also put Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on notice in this petition filed in November 2015. After his conviction in May 5, 2012, Tota Singh had submitted his resignation. The minister had been sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment for misusing a car belonging to the Punjab School Education Board.
The remaining period of his sentence, however, was suspended and he was released on bail.