A special CBI court today sentenced Punjab cabinet minister Bibi Jagir Kaur to five years in prison for conspiring to cause her daughters miscarriage 12 years ago. The visibly shattered former president of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) was taken to Patialas Central Jail immediately after the judgment was pronounced. She is likely to be moved to jail in Kapurthala,the district where she has her home and Vidhan Sabha constituency.
Besides IPC Section 313 (forcible abortion),Bibi Jagir Kaur was convicted of wrongful confinement (Section 344) and kidnapping (Section 365). She was acquitted of the charge of murder.
Jagirs daughter Harpreet Kaur died under mysterious circumstances in April 2000 and was cremated without an autopsy or inquest the following day. A week later,Kamaljit Singh of Jagirs native Begowal petitioned the Punjab and Haryana High Court alleging Harpreet had been murdered at Jagirs behest. Kamaljit said Harpreet and he had secretly married and Harpreet was pregnant with his child. A month before her death,Harpreet had allegedly been sedated and a 27-week-old male foetus aborted.
Three other accused,Dalwinder Kaur,Paramjit Singh and Sub-Inspector Nishan Singh,were convicted along with Jagir of similar charges and awarded five years rigorous imprisonment.
Jagir,who won the Bholath seat for a second term in the assembly recently,emerged from the court at 5.20 pm,over an hour after judge Balbir Singh pronounced the sentence. She has asked to be sent to Kapurthala jail as her first choice. The other accused too have requested to be sent to Kapurthala. We are arranging to send them there, an official at Patiala Central Jail told The Indian Express.
Jagir arrived at the court at around 11 am. She appeared relaxed,and after marking her attendance,went to the home of an Akali leader. She returned at 3.15 pm,about 15 minutes before the court announced her conviction. There was a rumour that she had been acquitted,briefly triggering slogans of Bole So Nihal from her supporters.
Bibi Jagir Kaur has been convicted under Section 120 (B) read with Sections 313,344 and 365 of Indian Penal Code, special CBI prosecutor R K Handa said. All the sentences would run concurrently,Handa said. The court also fined all the convicted accused Rs 5,000. Two accused,Satya Devi and Harvinder Kumar,were acquitted.
The case has seen several twists and turn since 2000,with many witnesses turning hostile. Complainant Kamaljit himself turned hostile temporarily. As the verdict came close,Kamaljit wrote to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal last week,seeking security.
The CBI inquiry was ordered by Punjab and Haryana High Court on June 9,2000. On October 3 that year,CBI filed an FIR against Jagir,who was then SGPC chief. According to the CBI,Dalwinder poisoned Harpreet by mixing phenobarbitone in her food. Jagir had allegedly asked Dr B S Sohal,a medical officer at the Sant Baba Prem Singh dispensary in Begowal,to suggest a poison after she failed to persuade her daughter to leave Kamaljit.