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Karnataka HC Removes Petitioner In PIL Against 'Cauvery Calling' Project; Case To Proceed As Suo Moto PIL

Mustafa Plumber
15 Oct 2020 1:59 PM GMT
Karnataka HC Removes Petitioner In PIL Against Cauvery Calling Project; Case To Proceed As Suo Moto PIL
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The Karnataka High Court on Thursday observed that the conduct of petitioner A V Amarnathan was not that of a pro-bono litigant and accordingly it converted the public interest litigation filed by him seeking directions to Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev's Isha foundation, to not collect funds from the public forvery Calling project, into a suo-motu petition. A division bench of...

The Karnataka High Court on Thursday observed that the conduct of petitioner A V Amarnathan was not that of a pro-bono litigant and accordingly it converted the public interest litigation filed by him seeking directions to Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev's Isha foundation, to not collect funds from the public forvery Calling project, into a suo-motu petition.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi had directed Amarnathan to justify his conduct of sending email to Discovery Channel, threatening contempt proceedings if it aired a program on the Cauvery Calling project.

The bench noted "In his affidavit Amarnathan, instead of showing remorse has justified what he has done. Therefore we cannot allow the petitioner to prosecute this petition as a pro-bono litigant. Orders passed by this court from time to time will show that the issue raised in the petition will have to be gone into. Therefore this petition will have to be treated as suo-motu (PIL)."

The court has now posted the matter for further hearing on November 3, to enable the court to appoint a member of the bar as Amicus Curiae, to assist the court.

Disapproving the conduct of Amarnathan the bench said "The petitioner appearing in person cannot decide whether airing of such a program will amount to contempt of court. If according to him airing of the program was objectionable the petitioner could have adopted appropriate remedy. Instead of adopting appropriate remedy he issued a threatening email. The petitioner who claims to be pro-bono litigant is not expected to act in this fashion of virtually threatening the channel."

During the hearing the Amarnathan informed the court that he did not give any threat to the channel but informed the channel the airing of the program may attract contempt of court. He also relied on a judgment of the high court to support his contention.

The bench said "Perusal of the email addressed by petitioner to the channel at two places it records that airing will amount to contempt of court. We disapprove this conduct of a petitioner who claims to be a pro-bono litigant."

The channel had scheduled to air a program on August 24. However, on receiving the legal notice by the petitioner the program was cancelled. Following which Isha Outreach, had brought to the notice of the court the conduct of the petitioner.

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.

On January 7, the Court had asked the foundation to disclose the amount it had 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.


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