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    Cricket body gets back custody of Dharamsala stadium

    Shimla: In a major jolt to the Himachal Pradesh government, the state high court on Tuesday ordered restoration of possession of the picturesque international cricket stadium in Dharamsala to the state cricket body.

    The stadium and its residential complex were taken over by the state along with other Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) properties on October 26. A division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh ordered status quo ante with respect to the government decision taking over the properties.

    The interim order comes on a writ petition filed by the HPCA, opposing the government decision on the ground that it was not given proper opportunity to be heard before the decision was taken.

    "I agree with the petitioner that it was a politically motivated action... the state is not expected to act like this," the bench observed.

    The government had cancelled the lease of lands given to the HPCA, then a society and now a company, and took possession of the international cricket stadium and its residential complex in Dharamsala and lands allotted to it at Bilaspur, Nurpur, Kotkhai and Shimla towns.

    The state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau has registered two cases against the HPCA, administered by BJP MP Anurag Thakur who is the son of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, and now investigations are on.