Himachal HC reserves order on cricket body`s plea

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh High Court Monday reserved its judgment on a petition filed by the state cricket body to quash a first information report (FIR) against it under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Acting Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir reserved the order after hearing the arguments of both parties, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and the state.

The former pleaded that the FIR was vague, malicious and a result of political vendetta.

In another petition of the HPCA to implead Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and three government officials in the ongoing row, a division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan Monday adjourned the matter till April 29.

The Supreme Court last month asked the high court to reconsider HPCA`s plea to implead the chief minister and others in the case.

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.

"We deem it proper to set aside the order under appeal and call upon the high court to examine afresh after affording an opportunity to all the parties concerned and dispose it," the apex court observed.

The high court had earlier wondered why the petitioners (including the HPCA) filed another motion for arraying non-applicants as party respondents.

The HPCA then moved the apex court, challenging the high court`s decision.

The HPCA alleged that the entire government machinery under the influence of the chief minister, in a midnight swoop Oct 26 last year, forcibly evicted the HPCA from the Dharamsala stadium.

The government, however, said its decision to cancel the lease and to take control of the HPCA`s properties was withdrawn by it Nov 18 last year, and on account of this development, most of the prayers in the writ petition have become infructuous.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 stadium 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 constructing a residential complex for players near its stadium in Dharamsala, 250 km from here.

The state government April 2 got sanction to initiate proceedings against BJP leader and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal for alleged wrongdoing in allotment of land during his regime to the HPCA led by his son and Lok Sabha member Anurag Thakur, the joint secretary in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).