The HC bench, led by Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, said that there is no crime in collecting funds for an afforestation drive.

Sadhguru in white wearing a maroon velvet shawl and stretching his hands
news Court Tuesday, September 07, 2021 - 21:36

In a relief for the Jaggi Vasudev-led Isha Outreach Foundation, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday, September 7 dismissed a petition seeking a bar on the organisation from collecting funds from the public for its ‘Cauvery Calling’ project. Live Law reported that a bench led by acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma held the petition as “frivolous'' and noted that “planting trees on barren land is not crime.”

The court dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL), observing that it is of the "considered opinion that afforestation has become very necessary keeping in view the present scenario and such activities need appreciation rather than putting spokes in carrying out projects like Cauvery calling," LiveLaw quoted the bench as saying. 

As earlier reported by TNM, a bench headed by then Chief Justice AS Oka had taken up the case suo motu and removed the original petitioner AV Amarnathan. The case pertained to the contradictory statements given by the state government and the NGO about the use of government resources on the initiative. 

‘Cauvery Calling' is an agroforestry project focused on planting trees along the banks of the Cauvery river in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, started by the Isha Foundation in September 2019. During the hearing of the case in June 2020, the state government had told the court that no government resources were spent on the project. This was even though then Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, during an event, had said that the state Forest Department would keep aside 2 crore saplings for this drive under the Krishi Aranya Protsaha Yojane (KAPY). The organisation’s website had featured this endorsement as well. 

Other issues that cropped up during the course of the hearing was about what kind of trees are appropriate for planting, and a Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report indicting the organisation of encroaching forest land.

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

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