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Badal gives up vigilance, justice depts
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
Taking a moral stand, Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, tonight relinquished his charge as minister for the Department of “Vigilance” and also the Department of “Justice”. Upinderjit Kaur will handle these sensitive, and, at times, controversial departments, in addition to her existing duties.

Orders to the effect were issued here late tonight, well- placed sources in the Punjab Government said while confirming the development. Badal will continue to hold the charge of the Home Affairs. The work of the Department of Justice has been bifurcated from the Home Affairs and handed over to Upinderjit Kaur, who is one of the senior-most legislators and a minister for education in the Badal Cabinet. In addition to this, the entire work of the Vigilance Department will also be looked after by Upinderjit Kaur, the orders said.

This will mean the all-powerful investigating arm of the government, the Vigilance Bureau, will be under Upinderjit and not Badal. The Vigilance Bureau has already started preliminary inquiries into various acts of the previous Congress regime in which it was alleged that favours were handed out to a select few. Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, who is also the secretary of the Vigilance Department which controls the Vigilance Bureau, will continue to do so.

In the past three weeks, Badal had faced a lot of criticism for holding on to these two portfolios as he and his family were facing trial in a case of alleged corruption in a Ropar court.

The Vigilance Bureau was the prosecuting agency. Also the public prosecutors, from the Department of Justice, had to plead the case against Badal, who is the Chief Minister and also the minister for justice.

The Opposition, the Congress, and senior media professionals had lambasted Badal for holding on to these two portfolios as this gave a wrong impression of his government.

His detractors had been saying that Badal was himself the prosecutor, the investigator and also the accused in the same case. The Department of Justice was the prosecuting agency while the vigilance had probed the matter when Badal was the Leader of the Opposition.

The Congress was vociferous in its protest and even demanded that the case be shifted outside Punjab as a “fair trial” was not possible with Badal at the helm of affairs. Capt Amarinder Singh had even questioned how could Badal as Chief Minister act against his ownself, or his wife and son?

When this SAD-BJP government was voted to power, the public prosecutors had a major argument in court over the process to be followed in the case and this was reported in the media. This had raised doubts if justice could actually prevail in the case.

Charges have already been framed against Badal, his wife Surinder Kaur Badal and son Sukhbir Badal, an MP from Faridkot.

Badals lawyer H.S. Mattewal has already been appointed the Advocate-General of the state.

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House of Capt’s son-in-law searched

Chandigarh, March 22
The income tax authorities have conducted a search operation on the house and factory of the son-in-law of former Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, it was learnt tonight. Sources in the IT Department confirmed that a search was conducted on the owner of a well-known sugar mill.

A unit of the department attached with the Ghaziabad investigating unit has searched his factory in Ghaziabad and his home on Tilak Marg, Delhi. some documents of financial transactions have been seized. It was not sure if any of the transactions are linked to Punjab. Sources said the owner of the sugar mill was a well-connected man having established contacts with leading industrialists of UP and Delhi.— TNS

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