Punjab Agriculture Minister Tota Singh was on Saturday sentenced to one year in jail by a district court in Mohali for misuse of his official car.
The minister was convicted for misusing the official car of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) when he was serving as the education minister in the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government between 1997 and 2002.
Singh was slapped a fine of Rs 30,000 and was granted bail. The minister has a one-month time to appeal against the verdict in the High Court.
Leader of the Opposition Sunil Jakhar reacted to the conviction and said Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal should own moral responsibility and also demanded that Tota Singh should resign immediately, according to IBN Live report. "Another one bites the dust," he said.
However, sessions judge Rajinder Aggarwal acquitted the minister in another case involving disproportionate assets.
"The funds of the board are meant to be spent for the welfare of the students. A minister has to lead the others by example. When the person who is at the helm of affairs conducts himself in such a manner, others are bound the follow him," the Daily Mail quoted the judge as saying.
"'Such a person loses the authority to control others," the judge said about Singh's role.
Singh is the second minister who has been convicted and given jail term after Bibi Jagir Kaur, who was a cabinet minister for rural water supply and sanitation and defence services. Kaur was found guilty of abduction and criminal conspiracy in the mysterious death of her daughter Harpreet Kaur in April 2000. The court dropped the murder charges on her, but she was sentenced to five years imprisonment in March and is currently serving the jail term in Kapurthala.