AFTER FAILING to get senior cabinet minister Tota Singh off the hook in a corruption case three years ago, the Punjab government made another such attempt Wednesday.
The prosecution moved an application in the Mohali court for withdrawal of a case registered against Tota Singh 14 years ago. The court is yet to take a call on prosecution’s application. The next date of hearing is fixed for November 5.
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Tota Singh, a SAD MLA from Dharamkot constituency in Moga, is Punjab’s agriculture minister. He was education minister in SAD-BJP government in 2000-2001.
When Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government came to power in Punjab, a corruption case was registered against Tota Singh, four senior officials of Punjab School Education Board, namely Jagjit Singh, Pavittarpal Kaur, Tirath Singh and Amar Singh, and a member of recruitment committee, in June 2002.
An application for withdrawal of case against Tota Singh was moved by public prosecutor in August 2013 but was not accepted by court. Mohali District Attorney Vijay Singla today moved the application Application under Section 321 of Criminal Procedure Code (the legal provision that deals with application for withdrawal of a criminal case) in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Puneet Mohan Sharma.
The case pertains to “recruitment scam” in education department when Tota Singh was education minister in SAD-BJP government. Tota Singh was initially booked with five others in the case when irregularities in the recruitment process for 134 clerks in education department allegedly came to the fore and a case under various sections including cheating and Prevention of Corruption Act was registered on June 14, 2002 at Mohali by state vigilance bureau’s flying squad.
The alleged irregularities included changing type test papers and “overwriting” in the interview marks in selection of 134 clerks “by illegal means”.
‘Tota Singh was charged under sections 120 B of IPC read with section 13(1)(d) read with section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and sections 465, 468 and 471 of Indian Penal Code by then Additional Sessions Judge cum special judge SAS Nagar Mohali Dilbagh Singh Johal in May 2014.
The home department gave its nod for withdrawal of case after the agencies concerned, including vigilance bureau, Mohali Deputy Commissioner and District Attorney (public prosecutor) agreed to it. A majority of the witnesses in the case had not supported prosecution’s version during the course of trial.