HPCA gives it another shot, moves guv's office against sports bill

  • Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times, Shimla
  • Updated: Jun 12, 2015 23:23 IST

Hamirpur legislator Anurag Thakur-led Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association's battle against the Himachal Pradesh Sports (Registration, Recognition and Regulation of Associations) Bill 2015 reached the Raj Bhawan on Friday.

The cricketing body has urged Governor Kalyan Singh to restrain the Congress-led state government from going ahead with the bill that was tabled in the Vidhan Sabha during the budget session amid opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"We humbly submit that you should kindly restrain the present state government and urge it not to go ahead with any such move that will destroy the prevailing state of harmony in sports functioning and will adversely affect the autonomy and performance of the sports association(s)," read the memorandum submitted to the governor.

The HPCA alleged that the Congress regime had made many attempts to the dislodge the cricketing body. "It is claimed that the aim of this bill is to extend support to the sports associations and bring transparency in their functioning. However, the intentions of the government are evident from the fact that since the present government has taken over in Himachal Pradesh its foremost agenda has been to dislodge the HPCA," the memorandum added.

The HPCA also drew governor's attention towards an identical sports bill tabled by chief minister Virbhadra Singh during his previous regime in 2005. The association had back then also challenged the sports bill's enactment and got a stay on it through the Himachal Pradesh high court.

The court at the time had directed the state government that no coercive action be taken against the association till the matter was decided. The bill was ultimately repealed in 2008 when the BJP assumed power.

"The Congress government after resuming power in 2012 is once again working with the same motive of taking control of an autonomous association that has rendered yeoman services to the game of cricket and provided state of the art infrastructure in the state," said the HPCA, while citing the state government's midnight takeover of the HPCA's scenic stadium in Dharamsala that had hosted many national and international matches, besides the Indian Premier League cricket tournaments.

The HPCA had moved the Himachal Pradesh high court against the government move. The court not only directed the state to forthwith restore the status quo ante as on the night of October 26, 2013, but also observed that taking over forcible possession in this manner was nothing short of destruction of the basic principles of rule of law and an autocratic act of the state.

"Now, after facing the wrath of the court, the government is taking the route of legislation to gain control over the association. We respectfully put on record our strong opposition to the government's behaviour and submit that the said bill passed by the HP Vidhan Sabha is against the autonomy of the sports associations," said the association that observed that the bill if enacted would severely hamper the functioning of sports associations.

"Furthermore, the sports associations that are working under the ambit of the Olympic Charter face a threat to their existence as the charter says that members of the International Olympic Committee will not accept from governments, organisations, or other parties, any mandate or instructions liable to interfere with the freedom of their action and vote," HPCA press secretary Mohit Sood said here on Friday.

The battle so far

2000: BJP leader Anurag Thakur takes over the reins of the HPCA with the party ruling the state

2002: Construction of HPCA stadium in Dharamsala begins

2005: Congress govt on coming to power enacts the sports bill. HPCA moved the high court that stays the enactment

2009: Sports Bill repealed by the BJP on resuming power

October 26-27, 2013: 10 months after coming to power, Congress takes over HPCA properties in a midnight swoop. HPCA moves the high court again

November 5, 2013: High court orders status quo ante

2015:Congress reintroduces sports bill to control sport bodies in the state

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