At a time when campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections is gradually picking up, fresh trouble brewed for the BJP as the state and vigilance bureau has sought prosecution sanction against former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, his son and Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur, three senior bureaucrats and office-bearers of the cricket association in the twin cases related to irregularities in the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA).
The vigilance had named 18 people in the challan but has sought prosecution sanction against only five.
The year-long probe indicted Dhumal for using his official position to influence the land lease for the HPCA headed by Anurag.
The vigilance bureau on Wednesday sent the case file to additional chief secretary (home) P Mitra for seeking the prosecution sanction against those indicted in the probe, including additional chief secretary Deepak Sanan, Ajay Sharma and retired IAS officer RS Gupta along with office-bearers and directors of the HPCA.
After assuming power, chief minister Virbhadra Singh had ordered a probe into the Congress chargesheet against the previous Dhumal government. The change of status from a society to a company had figured prominently in the chargesheet that had accused the BJP of extending undue benefits to the HPCA.
The vigilance probe had concluded that Dhumal had misused his official position to facilitate land lease for the cricket stadium when he was the chief minister in 2002. The cabinet had given the nod to lease 11.8 hectares of land to the HPCA to build the stadium that was completed in 2009.
The probe concluded that Dhumal was the chief patron of the HPCA and he influenced his cabinet to lease out land for the stadium. In February, the vigilance had sent a questionnaire to Dhumal, seeking his reply on the issue of sanction of government land to the HPCA and demolition of a building of the education department.
The probe revealed that Sanan, who was principal secretary, revenue, in 2011, approved the use of land for commercial purposes initially leased to the HPCA by the orders of the state cabinet for limited purpose of construction of a residential building for player’s infrastructural facility that was later turned into a high-end hotel.
The government had allotted 88 kanal of land for building the residential complex for players ahead of the second edition of the Indian Premier League matches. The probe had found that Sanan at his own level had approved the land for commercial purposes by changing the cabinet’s decision. Sources told HT that the officer changed the land use without obtaining permission from the sports department.
The probe also indicted retired IAS officer RS Gupta for conniving with Sanan. Gupta, who was the then deputy commissioner, Kangra, had forwarded the case to the financial commissioner, revenue, without obtaining permission and a noobjection certificate from the panchayat concerned.
The vigilance also sought prosecution sanction against RS Verma, former chief executive officer of the Dharamsala municipal council, for giving various permissions for running a restaurant in the cricket stadium. The vigilance also named Vishan Marwah and Sanjay Sharma, secretaries in the HPCA.