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Himachal cricket body row: Court reserves order

Shimla, May 14 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Wednesday reserved judgment on a petition by the state cricket body seeking prosecution of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and three government officials in a land row.

The division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan earlier heard arguments from plaintiff Bharatiya Janata Party MP Anurag Thakur-led Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and the state government.

The HPCA has challenged the government’s decision of last year to cancel the land lease granted to the HPCA in Dharamsala, 250 km from here.

The high court had earlier dismissed the HPCA’s plea seeking prosecution of the chief minister and others and partially allowed amendment of the writ petition.

At this, the HPCA had moved the Supreme Court, which remanded the matter back to the high court for deciding it afresh.

A division bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice J. Chelameswar March 14 set aside the high court Jan 8 order rejecting as “misconceived” the application of the HPCA to implead them in the case.

The HPCA alleged that the entire government machinery under the influence of the chief minister forcibly evicted the HPCA from its stadia, including one in Dharamsala.

The government, however, said its decision to cancel the lease and to take control of the HPCA’s properties was withdrawn by it Nov 18 last year, and on account of this development, most of the prayers in the writ petition have become infructuous.

The government also submitted that the chief minister and others, including Director General of Police Sanjay Kumar, were not necessarily parties as they were not concerned with the matter in their personal capacities.

Earlier, the high court had indicted the government for forcible eviction of the HPCA from its stadia and ordered restoration of possession to it.

The state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau in August last year filed a cheating and misappropriation case against the HPCA, over alleged wrongdoing in allotment of land to the sports body for the construction of a residential complex for players near its stadium in Dharamsala.

Former state chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur were formally charged in a trial court in Dharamsala April 25 with alleged wrongdoing in allotment of the land.

The filing of the charge sheet came hours after the high court dismissed the HPCA’s petition seeking quashing of a First Information Report (FIR) against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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