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HPCA land row: FIR filed against Prem Kumar Dhumal, Anurag Thakur

Dharamsala © AFP
Anurag Thakur said the case was politically motivated © AFP

Shimla/Dharamsala: Apr 25, 2014

Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his Lok Sabha member son Anurag Thakur were Friday formally charged in a trial court in Dharamsala with alleged wrongdoing in allotment of land to the state’s cricket association for constructing a residential complex for players near its stadium in Dharamsala.

The filing of the chargesheet came barely hours after Himachal Pradesh High Court acting Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir in Shimla dismissed the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association‘s (HPCA) petition seeking quashing of a First Information Report (FIR) against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Official sources said the chargesheet named 16 people as the government was yet to get prosecution sanction for two IAS officers — Deepak Sanan and Ajay Sharma. Sanan was posted in the revenue department when the land was allotted to the HPCA while Sharma was the state director of Youth Services and Sports.

The state government April 2 got sanction to initiate proceedings against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Dhumal for allotment of land to the HPCA led by his son, who is also the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) joint secretary, during his regime as chief minister (2008-12).

Thakur, who is re-contesting the parliamentary election from Hamirpur, said in a statement that the case was politically motivated.

The state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had filed a case in August 2013 against the HPCA under sections 406, 420 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code and section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988.

Justice Mir reserved the order April 7 after hearing the arguments of both parties — HPCA and the state. The former pleaded that the FIR was vague, malicious and a result of political vendetta.

During the hearing, counsel for the petitioners said the entire case was politically motivated. Based on a Congress chargesheet, the investigation is monitored by the chief minister and a special investigation team has been asked to submit the report to the chief minister, he contended.

“The lodging of the FIR and conducting of investigation at the behest of the chief minister is based on mala fides,” counsel said.

The petitioners said the entire exercise was just to take control of HPCA.

Advocate General Shravan Dogra maintained that all the documents, No Objection Certificates and other certificates were obtained fraudulently by HPCA and with a criminal intention. He said the conversion of HPCA from a society to a company was with ulterior motives just to cause wrongful gain to the petitioners and wrongful loss to the state.

Earlier, the high court had indicted the government for forcible eviction of HPCA from its stadia and ordered restoration of possession to it. The court then ordered status quo ante with respect to the cabinet decision over the properties.

The Supreme Court last month asked the high court to reconsider HPCA’s plea to implead Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh 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 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 will now hear the petition to implead the chief minister April 29.

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