State gate crashing into Dharamsala cricket stadium illegal – Himachal Court

Shimla: The Himachal Government as law abiding and law enforcing authority was severely dented as the HP High Court termed the states unilateral action of taking possession and dispossessing HP Cricket Association (HPCA) of its properties as grossly against constitutional principles and propriety.

A division bench headed by chief justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh directed the state to restore status quo as it existed on October 26,2013, a day before the midnight operation in which the government, following a cabinet decision, took into forcible possession the cricket stadium at Dharamshala, a star hotel in Dharamshala, lands for grounds at Bilaspur, Nurpur, Kotkhai and Shimla towns that had been leased to the sporting body.

Let's not grudge Anurag Thakur his hour of glory

The orders came on a petition filed by the HPCA challenging the decision dated 26.10.2013 of the government to cancel the lease granted in favour of HPCA and take over its premises.

Taking a stern view of the government actions the judges observed “the orders of forcible dispossession is against law,  constitutional guarantee and obligations of the state to its citizens as a person in settled possession of a premises cannot be dispossessed by an executive fiat, even though he can be stated as a trespasser.”

The court also recorded that the ownership of a building is distinct than the right in the grant of lease given by the state. The state can terminate the lease, but it is no basis for forcible dispossession, for which the government has to seek appropriate remedy in law.

The court made it clear that the restoration of status quo ante is no impediment for the government to proceed with the legal remedies and the opinion is only prima-facie and for considering the grant of interim relief only.

Before posting the case’s next hearing for 28 November, the court noted that as no reply had been filed, the bench gave the government time till 18.11.2013 for filing the reply and further gave time to the petitioners to file rejoinder by 25.11.2013.

It was 31 October that HPCA had moved court challenging the revenue secretary’s order to concerned district collectors to cancel the contentious lease deeds and take possession of the properties.

Besides the issue of validity of lease ownerships, another point being contested before the court involves the status of HPCA as a society or a not for profit company.

Whereas HPCA has been maintaining that its society status registered with the State Registrar of Societies stands dissolved for it converted into a not for profit company after passing of a unanimous resolution, the Registrar Societies in an order, last week, had ruled that its entity as a society still existed.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

3 Comments

  • It is amazing how, even in this day and age, a government can behave in such a dictatorial and lawless manner. It must have known that its action was illegal and would be struck down by the courts, but I guess the thirst for political vengeance was too overpowering!I recollect that in the late 90’s or early 2000’s the then Congress govt. had carried out a similar mid-night operation to take over Wildflower Hall Hotel near Kufri. Then too it had received a slap in the face from the High Court. It has obviously learnt nothing from that.An example of the old adage that ” those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.”

    • Just one correction out here, it was in 2001 and the BJP government led by Dhumal had made that abortive attempt in taking over Hotel Wildflower Hall forcibly.

      Possibly just to show that BJP was a weak government, the Congress government carried out this mid-night operation, forgetting that a government is a law enforcing agency not a mafia which could do whatever it wants to.

  • Serves Virbhadra right — the one who lived in shadows of Central government cabinet all these years, was given as useless a ministry as ministry of steel, suddenly got crowned for victory of Congress in the state. And true to Congress tradition he brings along the spirit of vindictiveness to Himachal. However, the political sproutling Anurag Thakur is no natural choice for himachalis. People have not forgotten how he went after dispossessing the Army of Annandale ground in his daddy’s tenure. His example is peerless in this country where most worthless of politician has never questioned the credentials of world’s second largest Army which is obsequiously subservient to the civilian government in this country. The nation has watched in horror, the way he casted aspersions on Army and it unnerved all of us, demeaned all of us. But more importantly, in his obsession for becoming some sort of don of cricket in the country, he severely dented the his own party the BJP’s image which sees its nationalism aligned with the army’s nationalism. In his brashfulness of getting the things done he may seem to come close to “Shehzada” Rahul Gandhi, but both, Virbadhra and Anurag, are actually more close to Badal-Arminder duo in down there in Punjab whose personal vendetta has caused some unprecedented reversals for growth and standing of Punjab. Large scale migration because of unemployment and corruption in Punjab continues even today, but these two sardarji’s personal scoring doesn’t seem to come any end. And the paid-news media is not tired to putting up a bogus statistics to prop “myth of prosperity” (as KPS Gill once called) of Punjab. There is a saying in Punjabi that “in the fight between two donkeys, only grass gets killed.” Punjabis, like Biharis and Uttrakhandis, will be found everywhere in world except their own state. So will be Himachalis, if God does not save them from these two political Frankensteins. What job man, let’s go play cricket!

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