Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former SGPC chief, was convicted of forcibly causing her daughter's miscarriage
Though acquitted of murder charge, the special CBI court in Patiala on Friday convicted Punjab Minister and former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Bibi Jagir Kaur of abducting, illegally confining and forcibly causing abortion of her daughter, Harpreet Kaur, almost 12 years ago.
Judge Balbir Singh handed down the sentence of a five-year prison term and ordered Ms. Kaur to pay Rs. 5000 as fine. She broke down after she was taken into custody from inside the court premises to be lodged in the Patiala Central Jail.
Steps down as Minister
Soon after the verdict, Ms. Kaur stepped down as Minister by sending her resignation letter to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Ms. Kaur was made the Minister for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Defence Services Welfare, Removal of Grievances and Welfare of Pensioners after she successfully contested the Bholath constituency in Kapurthala district. She is also the head of a religious sect that is headquartered in Begowal in the same district.
According to Central Bureau of Investigation counsel R.K. Handa, the court acquitted Ms. Kaur of the murder charge. However, she was found guilty under Section 120(b) read with Sections 313, 365 and 344 of the IPC, which related to entering into criminal conspiracy to cause an abortion without a woman's consent, kidnapping and wrongfully confining a person for more than 10 days.
Of the six others who were tried, one died during the trial and two were acquitted.
3 others pronounced guilty
The remaining three, including Nishan Singh, who was Ms. Kaur's personal security officer, were also pronounced guilty and handed separate sentences, which would run concurrently.
On April 20, 2000 Harpreet Kaur was cremated after she died under mysterious circumstances. However, no post-mortem was conducted as Ms. Kaur, who then headed the SGPC, claimed that her daughter died of severe food poisoning.
However, a case was registered when a youth, Kamaljit Singh from their village Begowal, claimed that Harpreet Kaur had married him secretly and was pregnant by their child. He accused Ms. Jagir Kaur of getting Harpreet Haur abducted and forcing her to abort the foetus, which ultimately caused her death.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court entrusted the case to the CBI.
Many twists and turns
The case, investigations and trials saw many twists and turns. Many witnesses, including Mr. Kamaljit Singh, turned hostile. Subsequently, he reiterated his charge.
In his reaction to the court decision, president of the State unit of the Congress Amarinder Singh hailed the verdict, saying: “The law has ultimately taken its course and the guilty stand punished.” He said that Ms. Kaur's conviction had reaffirmed the faith of people in the judiciary.