Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to maintain status quo on yoga guru Baba Ramdev`s land, which the state took back due to irregularities in its allotment by the previous BJP regime.
The high court order comes less than a week after the state govenment took possession of the prime land in Solan district as it found the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in 2010 violated statutory provisions in allotting it to Baba Ramdev.
Baba Ramdev`s Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust has constructed an ayurveda hospital-cum-yoga `shivir` hall on the land.
Taking up the petition of Patanjali Yogpeeth, a division bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Kuldip Singh restrained the government from demolishing the construction, which has already been raised, or changing the nature or possession of the land until the case is disposed of.
The court directed the government to file a reply within four weeks and listed the matter for next hearing April 24.
The government Feb 22 took back the possession of the 96.5 bighas of land near Sadhupul.
Patanjali Yogpeeth moved the high court Feb 25, alleging that the state`s decision to take back the possession of land was illegal, arbitrary and in violation of natural justice.
The petitioner said the lease deed was validly given to the trust and that it spent about Rs 11 crore for land development.
The land originally belonged to the erstwhile royal family of Patiala, to which Congress leader and former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh belongs.
The Congress government in Himachal said the land, valued around Rs.35-40 crore, was allotted to the yoga guru for a one-time lease payment of Rs.17 lakh for 99 years at a token annual fee of Re.1.
The land is located mid-way between Kandaghat town and the hill resort of Chail, 50 km from here.
Revenue Minister Kaul Singh Thakur said the government found a number of discrepancies in the allotment of land.
The land could not have been given on lease to Ramdev`s trust, which is a commercial organisation. Also, the lease was signed in the name of Acharya Balkrishan, who is allegedly of Nepali origin and facing a Central Bureau of Investigation probe.
The original power of attorney for executing the deed was with Balkrishan, who further authorised another individual to sign the deed, which was illegal, Thakur said.
The land, donated by Amarinder Singh`s family to the Himachal Pradesh government in 1956, was meant only for setting up the Indira Holiday Home for Children.