Bowled out in the first innings, the Himachal Pradesh government is no mood to give in to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), led by BJP MP Anurag Thakur.
A day after the high court's interim order indicted the state's Congress government for forcible eviction of the HPCA from the picturesque international cricket stadium in Dharamsala, the government clarified it had no intention of taking control of sports bodies.
"At the same time, the government wants to ensure that sports bodies do not become private property of any individual or their vested interests," Industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri said.
There were numerous complaints against the functioning of the HPCA and these were being looked into independently by different agencies, Agnihotri said.
Granting some succour to the HPCA, a division bench consisting of chief justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh ordered restoration of status quo ante as obtained prior to Oct 26 when the state forcibly took over the stadium and its land.
The hard-hitting order followed a writ petition from the HPCA, arguing that the government's action was politically motivated and it could derail national and state matches from being held in the stadium.
"We have no manner of doubt that the impugned action of the state, which is founded on order passed by the deputy commissioner to take over forcible possession, is completely against the constitutional guarantees and obligations of the state to be performed qua the citizens," the court said.
"Accordingly, we have no hesitation in not only staying the order but directing the state to forthwith restore the status quo ante as obtained on the night of Oct 26 before taking over forcible possession of the land and building standing thereon along with the movables."
But the court made it clear that restoration of status quo ante was no impediment for the state authorities to proceed with legal remedies and actions, as may be permissible in law.
Beaming HPCA functionaries said after the court's intervention that they had got the possession of all stadiums from the government. These included stadiums in Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kotkhai and Shimla towns.
"The Dharamsala stadium's grass has started decaying owing to lack of care in the past 10 days," Mohit Sood, HPCA's press secretary, told IANS.
"We are trying to convince the BCCI to again allocate Ranji matches to the HPCA as they were shifted out of the state after the controversy," he said.
The HPCA's monthly expenditure on maintenance of stadiums and academies is over Rs30 lakh.
"When Anurag Dhumal got elected for the first time, the HPCA's annual budget was just Rs20 lakh. In this fiscal, it's Rs 26 crore," Sood said. The assets on the HPCA's balance sheet till date are Rs 122 crore, he added.
Official sources said the government action came after allegations against the HPCA over converting itself from a society to a company.
The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau in August filed a cheating case against the HPCA over alleged wrong doings in allotment of land to it for building a residential complex for players near its Dharamsala stadium.