Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday warned Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officers, who are on mass leave to protest the “illegal” arrest of their colleague, to join duty by 2 pm, failing which they will be suspended.
Such a strike amounts to blackmailing and arm-twisting, he asserted.
The tough stand of Mann came after services at administrative offices in the state were hit as the officers went on five-day mass casual leave beginning Monday to protest the arrest of PCS officer Narinder Singh Dhaliwal in Ludhiana by the state vigilance bureau.
Mann wrote to the chief secretary to take action against PCS officers who are on mass casual leave.
In the letter, Mann said, it has been brought to my notice that some officers are not attending duty in the garb of some strike. “They are protesting against strong action taken by the government against corrupt officers”.
“Let this be very clear to everyone that this government has zero tolerance to corruption. Such a strike amounts to blackmailing and arm-twisting. It cannot be tolerated by any responsible government,” he said.
“Therefore, you are hereby directed to declare the strike illegal. Suspend all such officers who do not join by 2 pm today i.e 11.01.2023. Those who do not join by 2 pm, their period of absence should be treated as dies non,” said the CM.
Dhaliwal, who was posted as regional transport authority in Ludhiana, was arrested on Friday last by the vigilance bureau for allegedly taking bribes from transporters for sparing them challans for offending vehicles, the bureau had said.
“The PCS officer has been arrested illegally, wrongfully and arbitrarily and without due procedure,” the PCS officers’ association had claimed.
After Mann’s letter, Chief Secretary V K Janjua wrote to all PCS officers regarding their unauthorised absence from duty.
Chief Minister Mann has reiterated several times that there will be zero tolerance towards corruption and corrupt activities will be curbed with a heavy hand, Janjua wrote.
“The CM has desired that strict action to be taken against officers who have gone on strike or are supporting corrupt practices,” he said.
“It has come to my notice that some PCS officers are not attending to their duties in the garb of some strike. Such a strike amounts to blackmailing and arm-twisting which cannot be tolerated by any government. PCS officers are not workers who can form a union and strike work under labour laws.
“This unauthorised absence of PCS officers and their strike and the PCS who do not join duty by 2 pm today shall be suspended and their unauthorised absence from duty shall be treated as dies non which will result in break of service,” wrote Janjua.
Directing all PCS officers to join duty, he said, “All PCS officers who are on strike or unauthorised leave are thereby directed to join their duties by 2 pm today, otherwise they will be placed under suspension, period of absence from duty will be deemed as dies non and further disciplinary action will ensure under the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1970″.