The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday allowed the request for time made by the state government to comply with the court order directing it to make its stand 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.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum granted the request made by the state government seeking time to file its affidavit.
It said "AGA seeks time to comply with what is observed in paragraph 8, of the last order only by way of last indulgence we grant time till Feb 23, no further time shall be granted."
In its last order, the court had asked if the Government was willing to make a statement that 'Cauvery Calling' was not a government project.
The Court had observed in its order as follows :
"The second statement of objections by the State Government on 12th August 2020 is filed six months after the memo was filed by the second respondent. In paragraph-4 of the said statement of objections, it is now contended that the draft detailed project report submitted by the second respondent has not been accepted by the State Government."
Further it had said "The stand runs contrary to the stand taken in the first statement of objections. It is pertinent to note that in paragraph-6, it is tried to be contended that the statement is made in paragraph-4 of the earlier statement of objections regarding acceptance of the proposal of the second respondent is in respect of the proposal of the Forest Department. Further, it is stated that responsibility of the second respondent is limited to mobilising, motivating and enrolling the farmers under the existing scheme."
It had added "Though the second respondent, six months prior to filing of the second statement of objections by the State Government, had taken a stand that it is not involved in any such project and infact in the memo, it is stated that the second respondent is engaged in propogation of Yoga, Meditation etc. But the State Government wants to say that the second respondent is involved in an existing project. It is, therefore, all the more necessary that the State Government must make its stand very clear by filing an affidavit and by making a clear statement on the question whether the State Government has any connection with the project of Cauvery Calling and whether the second and third respondents are involved in project of the State Government. If they are involved in any project, the State Government must file necessary document in support. If such a clear statements on oath would have been made long back, the entire issue could have come to an end."
During the hearing, the counsel appearing for Isha Outreach informed the court that the respondent has published on its website a statement saying that the Cauvery Calling project is an initiative of Isha Outreach and that a memo would be filed on the next date to place the same on record.
The statement published on the website reads thus: 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 his petition it is claimed that the foundation is planning to plant 253 crores tree saplings across the 639 kilometer stretch of Cauvery river bank from its birthplace 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 a total of Rs, 10,626 crores , which according to the petitioner is a major scam.