File photo: BJP leader Anurag Thakur
The Supreme Court has stayed criminal proceedings against the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) and BJP parliamentarian Anurag Thakur for alleged wrongdoings in the cricket body's management.
A division bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice P.C. Pant, while staying the case pending in a trial court in the hill state on Monday issued notice to the state, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and police officers and directed them to file their reply within eight weeks.
Thakur and the cricket body had sought quashing of a case being pursued by the state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau against them in a court in Dharamsala town.
The petitioners have challenged the state high court's April 25, 2014 judgment rejecting their plea for quashing the proceedings.
They said the corruption case against Thakur was politically motivated.
Official sources told IANS the case in which the HPCA got reprieve from the apex court is related to getting land allotted from the government for cricket promotion by constructing a stadium.
Later, the HPCA converted its status from a society to a company without consent of the government.
Initially, the state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau in August 2013 filed a cheating and misappropriation case against HPCA over alleged wrongdoing in allotment of land for the construction of a residential complex for players near its stadium in Dharamsala.
Later, more cases were filed against the HPCA and its office-bearers and mismanagement of the cricket body is one among them.
In the alleged wrongdoing in allotment of land for the construction of the players' residential complex, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his son Thakur were formally charged in a trial court in Dharamsala April 25 last year.
The filing of the chargesheet came hours after the high court dismissed the HPCA's petition seeking quashing of a First Information Report (FIR) against them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The disputed land, 3 km from the picturesque stadium and 250 km from the state capital, has been used by the HPCA to build a five-star Pavilion, which has 38 rooms, 32 huts and a high-tech gym.
The land was allotted when Prem Kumar Dhumal, Thakur's father, headed the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state.