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The Karnataka High Court today asked the state government to clarify whether the Cauvery Calling project is an initiative undertaken by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Foundation or Isha Outreach.
The clarification was sought by the Court while dealing with a PIL filed by Advocate AV Amarnathan praying for directions to Isha Foundation to refrain from collecting any funds from the public for the project.
Noting certain irregularities in the submissions of the state government and Isha Foundation, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice ES Indiresh directed,
Karnataka High Court
The state government had submitted that it had accepted the proposal of Isha Foundation for an initiative named "Cauvery Calling". However, counsel appearing for Isha Foundation contended the project was an initiative of Isha Outreach and not Isha Foundation.
In its detailed report, Isha Foundation showcased Cauvery Calling as a project of the state government. Further, it was submitted that Isha Outreach is the entity that dealt with the financial aspects of Cauvery Calling, while Isha Foundation only creates awareness on the project among farmers.
Adding on, it was submitted that Isha Foundation is not collecting any funds from the public for the Cauvery Calling project.
The Bench proceeded to examine the relevant portion of the state government's objections.
"A proposal by Isha Foundation for Cauvery Calling project was submitted to the government during the first week of April, 2019. It was further stated that there were detailed discussions and considerations. Thereafter, the government proposed to the Department of Forest to take up the project with an assurance that separate budget will be allocated for the existing scheme of KAPY. Thereafter, it refers to a proposal made by the Department of Forest to the State government on 12th September 2019. Ultimately, the state government has stated that the proposal of the Isha Foundation was accepted."
However, the Court noted that the order accepting the said project was not placed on record by the government. In this view, the Court further went on to observe that,
"The state government is not coming clean with the true facts."
During the hearing, CJ Oka asked state government counsel Vijaykumar Patil,
"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?"
Raising concerns on the state government's stand, the Court observed,
Karnataka High Court
Ultimately, the Bench directed the state governemnt to clear its stand in the matter by submitting a supplementary statement of objections within two weeks.
The Bench also allowed the impleading application filed by Isha foundation and further directed the petitioner to implead Isha Outreach as respondent 3.
The matter will be next heard on July 2.
The petition filed by Amarnathan alleged that as part of the Cauvery Calling project, Isha Foundation was planting saplings on government land and collecting money for the same from the public.
The plea questions how the government can allow its land to be used for planting saplings by a private organisation, without studying the pros and cons of the project.
The petitioner further argued that the “collection of money from public is disturbing” as the Foundation is expected to collect a massive ₹10,626 crore as donation.