Shimla: In a setback to the state government, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday quashed a criminal case registered against state cricket body chief and BJP MP Anurag Thakur on charge of encroaching land to construct the Dharamsala stadium.
It also set aside the chargesheet framed by the chief judicial magistrate of Dharamsala against Thakur, who is also President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Delivering the 27-page judgment, Justice Rajiv Sharma observed that the reply of the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association’s (HPCA) petition was “vague and sketchy”.
“If the trial is permitted to continue, it would amount to abuse of the process of court and not serve the ends of justice. The FIR (first information report) and challan on the face of it do not disclose the commission of offence under Section 441 (criminal trespass) of the IPC,” said the court.
It added: “The contents of the FIR, even if taken at their face value and accepted in entirety, do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.”
“There is no specific mention when the accused committed the offence. It has been vaguely stated that they trespassed in 2013. It has also not been shown as to what offence they intended to commit after trespassing on the land,” he said.
A piece of land measuring 49,118.25 square metres was leased to the HPCA by the government for constructing the stadium, which is now a venue for international matches too.
The Himachal Vigilance Department had booked Thakur, who has been at the helm of the HPCA since 2000, and state cricket body secretary Vishal Marwah on April 8, 2014.
The high court said though the accused have been summoned, their roles have not been specifically pointed out in the commission of the offence by the magistrate.
The court said it is necessary for the magistrate to pinpoint the role played by either the President or the Secretary of the HPCA in the commission of offence under Section 441 of the Indian Penal Code.
“It has also not come on record (as to) in what manner the petitioners intentionally insulted or humiliated or annoyed the occupants of the land,” said the judgment.
Official sources said Thakur-administered HPCA has developed five stadiums, including the world-class showpiece stadium in Dharamsala, and one cricket academy in the state capital.