The bench further directed the state government to specify if it has allowed Isha Foundation to participate in any government project and to submit the orders issued to give permission

Jaggi Vasudev and YediyurappaJaggi Vasudev and Yediyurappa
news Court Monday, December 07, 2020 - 19:13

The Karnataka High Court has directed the state government to clarify if it would be willing to issue a public notice stating that the 'Cauvery Calling' project, started by Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Foundation and Isha Outreach, has nothing to do with it.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty asked the state government to clarify if it will issue a public notice clarifying its position that it is not involved in the 'Cauvery Calling' project. Earlier in June, the High Court had asked the Karnataka government to explain who is implementing the agroforestry campaign and the state government subsequently replied that it is not a state government project. 

The bench further directed the state government to specify if it has allowed Isha Foundation to participate in any government project and to submit the orders issued to give permission. "Show an order of the government which permits participation of respondent 2 and 3 in any of the government projects as mentioned in the statement of objection.  Show us a single order which states that responsibility of respondent 2 (Isha Foundation) is to mobilize farmers and enrol the farmers. If you can't show that, then say that they are doing their own project," the bench said as per Livelaw

The state government has time till Wednesday to clarify its position. 

'Cauvery Calling' is an agroforestry project flagged off in 2019 by Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Foundation. The project focused on planting trees along the Cauvery River and the foundation, which enjoys the patronage of celebrities, industrialists and politicians, collected enough money through donations from the public to plant more than 5 crore trees.

But even though large sums of money was collected, the High Court questioned the state government about who is implementing the project since there were conflicting statements in and outside court. 

Read: HC asks Karnataka govt to clarify whose project is 'Cauvery Calling'

In an affidavit submitted in the High Court, the state government said Cauvery Calling was contributing to a government scheme in Karnataka - – Krishi Aranya Protsaha Yojane (KAPY) - implemented by the forest department. However, while speaking at an event organised by Isha Foundation in September 2019, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said that the forest department in the state would set aside two crore saplings for Cauvery Calling. But the same was not mentioned in an affidavit submitted in court. 

Isha Foundation submitted to the High Court in March that its social development branch Isha Outreach was dealing with Cauvery Calling. The state government in August told the High Court that 'Cauvery Calling' is not a government project. 

The High Court is hearing a petition filed by advocate AV Amarnathan questioning the collection of funds from the public for 'Cauvery Calling'. Last month, the High Court subsequently removed the petitioner from the case after he sent a legal notice to Discovery Channel asking it to refrain from telecasting a program about the project. The case is now being heard as a suo motu petition. 

Read: What is Karnataka govt’s role in Cauvery Calling? Conflicting stands in and outside court

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