8 March 2021 8:06 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court on Monday orally directed the state government to make a statement if it was willing to make an inquiry whether any money was collected by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Foundation or Isha Outreach by projecting "Cauvery Calling" as a project of the State government. A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty made the...
The Karnataka High Court on Monday orally directed the state government to make a statement if it was willing to make an inquiry whether any money was collected by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Foundation or Isha Outreach by projecting "Cauvery Calling" as a project of the State government.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty made the observation after the government clarified that "Cauvery Calling" is a project of Isha foundation/Isha Outreach and that it was not a project of the Government of Karnataka.The Government of Karnataka is not funding this project or providing government land/private land for the project.
Taking note of this clarification, the bench asked :
"Now are you willing to hold an inquiry to ascertain whether any money was collected by projecting that this is a project of the Government of Karnataka? Are you willing to hold an inquiry?"
The Government Advocate replied that the state has issued the clarification that it is not a project of the State government.
Chief Justice Oka then said :
"Now you have done it...when the state government after so many orders passed has taken a stand, they (Respondents) also have taken a stand belatedly that the project is not of the state government. Now you make a statement and put an end to the petition. Appoint an officer and hold an inquiry whether at any stage either by respondent 2 or respondent 3 collected money by projecting it as a project of the state government."
The CJ added, "We will issue necessary directions, unless you make a statement that the state government will make an inquiry and put an end to the entire petition"
The court has now directed the registry to record the affidavit filed by the State government giving the clarification and posted the matter for further hearing on March 24.
The clarification was issued by the state government after the court passed repeated directions to make its stand very clear on the question whether the State Government has any connection with the project of Cauvery Calling and whether the second and third respondents (Isha Foundation/Isha Outreach) are involved in the project of the State Government.
"The Cauvery Calling project is an initiative by Isha Outreach. It is not a project by the Government of Karnataka. It is also clarified that the saplings planted as a part of the Cauvery Calling project are planted in the lands belonging to farmers and not in Government lands".
The direction was given during the hearing of a petition filed by Advocate A V Amarnathan in 2019.
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.
In January last year, 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 its subsidiary Isha Outreach.
Last year, the Court had converted the PIL as a suo moto case after removing the petitioner as a party. The Court took this action after rebuking the petitioner for serving a legal notice on the Discovery Channel against the telecast of a program on 'Cauvery Calling' by misrepresenting that there was a stay on such telecast.