Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh Wednesday expressed reservations on the Himachal Pradesh government’s move to withdraw cases against the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and other accused.
Reacting to the move, the former chief minister said, “Decision of the government, as reported in papers to withdraw HPCA cases, has surprised me. The decision taken by the government is premature, hasty and unwarranted.”
The Congress, after it returned to power in 2012-13, had filed four FIRs against the HPCA and named association president Anurag Thakur, his father and former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, senior IAS officer Deepak Sanan and several others as accused.
The state cabinet, last month, took a decision in principle to withdraw all the cases filed against the BJP leaders and several others.
Virbhadra alleged that it was a well-known fact that matters related to the HPCA have been pending before different courts in the state and outside, including the Supreme Court.
He said, “The criminal courts have taken cognisance and the incumbent government should have logically waited for the final decision on such criminal cases. To accept lease money from HPCA when cases are pending is a political decision taken in haste and unwarranted.”
“Ultimately the decision of courts will prevail. When cognizance has been taken by criminal courts there cannot be any withdrawal without court permission,” Virbhadra added.
Asserting that the law must take its own course, he said: “If some offence has been committed, offenders must be punished in accordance with law.”
“Such hasty decisions, perhaps taken under some pressure, need to be avoided. The decision needs to be reconsidered before any action in such public interest cases,” he added.
Meanwhile, the HPCA deposited Rs 1.37 crore as payment towards the land it had leased from the government. The Congress government had stopped taking the lease money, which is Rs 27 lakh per year, after cases were filed against the association. The government had leased land near Dharamshala for the construction of ‘The Pavillion’, a luxury resort for lodging of the international and national cricket players during cricket matches.
Last week , the state government consulted Advocate General Ashok Sharma and allowed the HPCA to deposit the money. This will pave the way for withdrawal of the cases pending against the cricket body .
In 2013, the state cabinet had also cancelled the allotment of the land lease to the HPCA and took over the possession of the stadium.Soon, however the state High Court had quashed the government order.