Amid the controversy raked up by the opposition Congress over his appointment, J.S. Sekhon, a retired high court judge, was on Friday sworn-in as the new Lokpal in Punjab.
Punjab governor Shivraj Patil administered the oath of office to Sekhon at the Punjab Raj Bhawan.
The Congress, which is the main opposition party in Punjab, had objected to the appointment of Sekhon as Lokpal on grounds of propriety. Leader of opposition in the Punjab assembly Sunil Jakhar had said: "For the sake of moral and judicial propriety, Justice J.S. Sekhon should have declined to be the Punjab Lokpal as his brother Janmeja Singh Sekhon is a minister in the Punjab government."
Jakhar said that Sekhon was also related to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. Questioning the mode and timing of the appointment, Jakhar said that the way the Badal government appointed Sekhon as the Lokpal had raised doubts about the real intentions of the government on the issue.
He said the appointment came just before parliament was to discuss a central legislation on the Lokpal in the forthcoming winter session.
Jakhar wondered how could the Lokpal, who is supposed to hear complaints against government ministers and officers, be impartial when his real brother was a cabinet minister in the Badal government.
In the 15-member Badal ministry, five members are related. These include chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Badal's son-in-law Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, Sukhbir's brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia and Janmeja Singh Sekhon (a relative of Badal). Jakhar maintained that the person appointed to head a constitutional body should be above board and that "his appointment clearly smells of partisan politics".