The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday restored "status quo ante" in respect of the takeover of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association land and properties, and "disapproved" the action of the state government saying it was "politically motivated".
A division bench of Chief Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh restored the position as existed on October 26 when the state government cancelled the lease of lands given to the cricket association and took possession of the properties past midnight.
"The government is supposed to uphold the law but this action was against the law and we agree with the petitioner that it was a politically-motivated action as the state is not expected to act like this," the bench observed.
The interim order has come as a big relief for the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) which had sought restoration of the properties, dubbing the action of the government as "mala fide" and that natural justice had been denied by not issuing any notice before taking the action.
The state cabinet had cancelled the grant of lease of all lands given to HPCA and took over the properties including Cricket Stadium and Hotel Pavillion at Dharamsala and lands at Bilaspur, Nurpur, Kotkhai and Shimla on October 26 midnight.
The bench said it was "an act of highhandedness" of the state authorities, which were expected to follow a due course of law to dispossess any person and maintained that the action as "politically motivated and goes against all established norms, rule of law and the Constitution".
"We order the state government to restore a status quo ante and the position prevailing before October 26" it said.
The HPCA had filed a voluminous petition with documents and maintained that natural justice had not been done by not giving prior notice before the takeover.
The bench, however, permitted the Registrar of Cooperative Societies to go ahead with his action, but restrained him from passing any order without the approval of the high court. The court fixed the next hearing on November 28.