November 30, 2023 12:30 pm

Now, IAS officers take up cudgels against Punjab Govt

Trouble seems to be far from over for the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government.

While the Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officers, who have been on a protest leave for two days now, have decided to continue with their strike after parleys with the government failed, IAS officers, too, have decided to take the government head on.

After three rounds of meetings with Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Janjua today, the IAS officers decided to take up the cudgels against the Vigilance Bureau (VB) and the government.

An emergency meeting of members of the Punjab IAS Officers’ Association has been called on Wednesday to “discuss the issue”. Members of the association have also started collecting money for contesting the case filed against their colleague in the PSIEC land bifurcation case.

The IAS officers seemed to have been appeased by the CM yesterday, on the assurance that the record from the VB would be summoned with regards to the land bifurcation case, in which 2008 batch IAS officer Neelima had been booked. But the inability of the VB to bring the record delayed the response that Janjua was to submit to the CM.

“We were asked by the CM to wait for 24 hours. Since the VB is not complying with the orders of the CM, we will discuss the issue at our meeting and decide the next course of action,” said an office-bearer of the association.

Sources in the government say that the VB had remained steadfast in its claim that no prior sanction under Section 17 A was required in the case of both the IAS and PCS officer. A team of the VB also brought former Executive Director of the PSIEC, arrested two days ago, to the office to collect evidence.

The work in state government offices remained suspended as other unions — The Punjab Revenue Officers’ Association, Confederation of the Associations of Excise and Taxation Department and PSEB Engineers’ Association — extended their support to the protesting officers.

The officers have been protesting against the arrest of Ludhiana RTA Narinder Singh Dhaliwal by the VB sleuths, without taking prior sanction under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Mann assured yesterday that he would not let any injustice being done to any officer, provided that he had not indulged in corrupt practices.

The officers, however, did not seem convinced and decided not to relent till their two major demands, including release of Dhaliwal, and registration of a case against the VB officials who had allegedly framed another PCS officer Tarsem Chand in 2021. Chand has been absolved of charges by a SIT headed by a VB DIG.

Meanwhile, the government did not seek the police remand for Dhaliwal today and he was sent into judicial custody, which could pave the way for securing his bail. Representatives of the association remained ensconced in a meeting with PS to CM A Venu Prasad till late in the evening.

While the government agreed to re-examine the case of PCS officer Tarsem Chand, the representatives of the PCS Officers Association said they would discuss the whole issue in their meeting on Wednesday.

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