A Dharamsala court on Monday granted bail to former chief minister and leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal and ten others in a case of cheating and criminal breach of trust registered against the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA).
Apart from Dhumal, the others who were granted bail include HPCA office bearers, panchayat representatives and officials.
Dhumal, his MP son Anurag Thakur who is HPCA chief, younger son Arun Dhumal along with 16 others, were summoned by the court on September 6 in connection with the case registered under sections 420, 406, 218, 120(B) and 201 of the IPC and section 13(B) of the Prevention of Corruption Act on August 1, 2013.
Special public prosecutor Satish Thakur told Hindustan Times that the court of additional district and sessions judge Davinder Kumar granted bail to 11 of the 16 accused under section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) at furnishing bail bond and surety bond of `25,000.
Meanwhile, the court also granted exemption to Anurag Thakur from personal appearance in the court. The Hamirpur MP had sought exemption from personal appearance, citing a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on information technology, headed by him.
"Three other accused Arun Dhumal, Vishal Marwah and Surender Thakur also remained absent as summons could not be served upon them," told the public prosecutor. Vishal Marwah and Surender Thakur are HPCA's honorary secretary and vice- president respectively.
The court also issued summons against senior Himachal Administrative Service (HAS) officer Gopal Chand Sharma against whom prosecution sanction has been granted by the government.
Two Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers Deepak Sanan (then principal secretary, revenue) and Ajay Sharma (then director of sports and youth services) were not summoned as prosecution sanction against them is still awaited.
"The 11 accused who surrendered before the court have been given the copy of the challan and the matter is again listed for service on December 19," said Thakur.
The State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau, after a year- long investigation, had filed the chargesheet in the case on April 25, 2014.
The vigilance bureau accused HPCA of acquiring land fraudulently by deception and illegal means, obtaining documents -- NOCs (no objection certificates) and other certificates -- with a criminal intention, and conversion of HPCA, which was registered as a society, into company with ulterior motives to cause wrongful loss to the state.
Dhumal, who was named in the chargesheet, faces charges of "misuse of the office of chief minister" in granting approvals to the HPCA for land to build the cricket stadium and also other favours to the cricket body led by his own son.
Himachal Pradesh governor Urmila Singh had granted prosecution sanction against Dhumal on April 2.
Besides Prem Kumar Dhumal, others who got bail were HPCA office bearers Sanjay Sharma, Colonel HS Minhas, Danvender Singh, RS Kapoor, RP Singh, Ranveer Singh, former president of Dari Panchyat Pushpa Devi, vice-president Bhupinder Singh, member Hema and executive officer of Nurpur municipal council Ranveer Singh Verma.