In a major relief to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), the Himachal Pradesh high court on Tuesday said dispossessing it from the Dharamsala stadium and other buildings was against law, even if the lease was terminated.
The high court directed the state government to restore the status quo ante October 26 on the HPCA property. The registrar of co-operative societies can continue with the proceedings initiated against the HPCA but not pass any final order until the court's permission.
The division bench comprising chief justice AM Khanwilkar and justice Kuldip Singh observed that prima facie the Kangra DC's orders to take possession of the property was against the constitutional guarantees. The court added that the observations were for the purpose of passing the mandatory interim order only and would have no bearing on the merit of the case.
Reminding state of the obligation to citizens, the bench observed that executive fiat was not the way to take away the settled possession of any premises and the building's ownership was distinct from the grant of lease given by the state. "The state can terminate the lease but for forcible dispossession, it has to seek appropriate remedy in law," the court added.
The HPCA and its president, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian Anurag Thakur, had filed a petition against the decision of the state government to cancel the lease and challenged the state government's taking over the premises, claiming they had not been heard and cancellation decision was arbitrary and motivated politically.