Upholding the indictment of Punjab Civil Services officer Preneet Bhardwaj in the voter list violations case dating back to 2003, the Badal government has slapped penalty for denying him an annual increment.
In doing so, the cabinet meeting on Friday overruled the Punjab Public Service Commission's recommendation of letting the PCS officer off with only a warning.
With the penalty, Bhardwaj, the senior most PCS officer, could lose the last chance of nomination to the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) from the PCS quota.
As sub-divisional magistrate at Batala in 2003, Bhardwaj was embroiled in a controversy over tampering of the voter list for the panchayat polls. An inquiry conducted by IAS officer Sucha Ram Ladhar had found the PCS officer 'guilty' and recommended a major penalty against him in 2008.
The government had retrieved the Ladhar report from cold storage in November 2012 ahead of the departmental promotion committee (DPC) meeting. The report was twice forwarded to the PPSC, which, however, had disagreed with the quantum of punishment and instead recommended only a warning to Bhardwaj.
At the cabinet meeting, the BJP had reportedly tried to plead a lighter punishment to Bhardwaj. However, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal put his foot down on punishment to the controversial PCS officer.