The Karnataka High Court on Thursday posed several questions to the Karnataka Government on the 'Cauvery Calling' project under the auspices of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Foundation.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay S Oka asked the State Government to explain how 'Isha Outreach' was being allowed to claim the 'Cauvery Calling' as its project, despite accepting the proposal of 'Isha Foundation' to implement the same.
"Are you prepared to issue a notification that Isha Foundation or anybody else will not collect funds from anyone in the name of Cauvery Calling?", the bench asked.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by advocate A V Amarnathan seeking directions to the foundation not to collect any funds from the public for the 'Cauvery calling project'.
Isha Foundation has told the Court that it was not dealing with the project, and that the same was being carried out by another entity "Isha Outreach".
The Court's questions came in this backdrop.
"This is a clear cover up. Government should not get influenced by the fact that some influential people are involved in this project", orally observed Chief Justice Oka.
State counsel Vijaykumar Patil informed court on Thursday that the project was based on the proposal of the Department of Forests and not Isha Foundation.
In response, the Court observed that this submission was completely contrary to statement made in statement of objection filed.
The Court allowed the impleadment application filed by Isha Foundation, and asked the petitioner to add Isha Outreach as additional respondent in the case. The matter will be next heard on July 2.
As per the petition, the Foundation is planning to plant 253 crores tree saplings across the 639 kilometer stretch of Cauvery river bank from its birth place Talacauvery to Thiruvarur. The Foundation is said to be collecting Rs. 42 per tree planting from the public. That means it is collecting a whooping sum of Rs 253 X 42 in total of Rs, 10,626 crores , which according to the petitioner is a major scam.
The plea said : "Foundation claims that it has conducted studies regarding the Cauvery Basin. But it ought to have submitted the said report to the State. And the state after deliberating the said studies should have given an approval. But no such process is carried out. The petitioner submit that no private organization can be permitted to carryout any work, on the Government land, without there being a proper approval from the state."
On January 7, the Court had asked Isha Foundation to disclose the amount it has collected for the 'Cauvery Calling Project
The bench had then said "Do not be under the impression that you are not bound by law because you are a spiritual organization."
Later, Isha Foundation told the Court that the project was being dealt with by Isha Outreach.