Sekhon takes oath as Lokpal, Cong cries foul

Amid the allegations of it being a "political appointment" with a clear case of "conflict of interest", Justice (retd) Jai Singh Sekhon took oath as the new Lokpal of Punjab on Friday triggering a fresh round of protest from the opposition Congress.

The Congress has been saying that for the sake of "moral and judicial propriety" Justice Sekhon should have declined to be the Punjab Lokpal as his brother Janmeja Singh Sekhon is a minister in the Punjab government.

State Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh in a letter written to Governor Shivraj C Patil with a copy to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, said, "A Lokpal is required to be an autonomous, independent-minded and politically uncoloured individual mandated and empowered by the provisions of The Punjab Lokpal Act,1996 to investigate and inquire into complaints of misconduct and corruption. There is a clear and patent conflict of interest between the personal life and familial affiliations of Justice Sekhon, on the one hand and his duties and functions as an independent and autonomous Lokpal, on the other hand."

He added: "I am also given to understand that Justice Sekhon's wife is a close relative of the present Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal."

The PCC President asserted, such deep family connections with sitting and active political members of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal party will render Justice Sekhon 'unsuitable' if not completely disqualify him to take oath and assume the office of a Lokpal.

However, in a brief chat with reporters after taking oath at the Raj Bhavan here, Justice Sekhon said, "I have no political affiliations. Though my brother is a Cabinet minister...I will administer whatever my powers are impartially".

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was present at the ceremony, said, "Judge ka koyee relation nahee hota, Judge means judge (Judges have no relation while discharging duties, Judge is above every relation)".

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