Shimla, Sep 19: In a major embarrassment to the Tourism Department, the High Court has set aside the order issued by it for cancelling the registration certificates to home stay owners.Deciding the issue arose through a bunch of petitions as to whether the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972, prohibits the use of property, purchased by non-agriculture Himachalis, for the purpose of “home stay”, the court observed, “Bare reading of the Section does not indicate there being any prohibition in the use of property for the purpose of home stay.
”A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma observed, “Significantly, there is no statutory embargo on using the property as ‘home stay’. By way of an executive fiat, such condition cannot be imposed, more so, without any reasonable justification. Order, executive in nature, is ultra vires the Act, apart from being unreasonable and illegal.
”To promote tourism, the Centre introduced a scheme “Incredible India Bed and Breakfast/Homestay Establishments,” encouraging the owners of houses to allow tourists to reside with them. The state government had also notified a scheme known as ‘Himachal Pradesh Home Stay Scheme-2008.
’As per this scheme, any house in rural areas in a farmhouse, orchards, tea gardens etc would qualify under the scheme. It was further mentioned that the house would fulfil the minimum requirement of having one or more rooms to cover under the scheme with attached toilet facility which would be made available to tourists.
The petitioners, as owner of residential accommodations at Kasauli, decided to promote the cause. But on July 29, 2015, the Department of Tourism issued notice to the owners, asking them to immediately stop the “commercial activity” for the reason that it was violative of Section 118 of the Act.
Thereafter the department passed an order on September 4, 2015, cancelling the registration certificate issued by it for running the home stay.Quashing the order, the court further observed, “Thus when neither the Act, nor the scheme prohibited the use of the house, by way of a clarification – an executive order – the state could not imposed such an embargo.”
Source Tribune India