The Karnataka High Court Tuesday asked the Isha Foundation run by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev to file an additional affidavit disclosing the amount it has collected for the ‘Cauvery Calling’ initiative and the manner in which the funds have been raised.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar was hearing a petition against Isha Foundation for collecting money from farmers to fund the initiative.
In an oral observation, the bench said, ‘Even spiritual matters have to be bound by law. In the name of spirituality, what all are you doing? Don’t be under the impression that if you are not-for-profit organisation, you are not bound by law.
You are not authorised by the state or Central government to take money. Under what authority are you collecting money from farmers? You are not a registered society. Who has constituted it and under what law?’
The court also said creating awareness on river rejuvenation is a good cause but funds should not be collected forcibly.
The bench was hearing the petition filed by advocate A V Amarnathan, who is seeking directions to the Isha Foundation not to collect any funds from the public for the initiative.
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The bench also pulled up the state government for not conducting an enquiry into complaints about Isha Foundation allegedly collecting funds forcibly from people.
The state informed the court that they have not received any complaint and it has not authorised the foundation to collect the money, with the government’s counsel arguing that the state has not allowed the Isha Foundation to carry out any work on government land.
The bench directed Isha Foundation to disclose how much money it has collected for the initiative and in what manner. The court will hear the matter on February 12.
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The petitioner questioned how the state government can allow its land to be used for planting saplings by a private organisation, which is raising donations from the public, without studying the pros and cons of the project. The petition said that the foundation has a target of planting 253 crore saplings on the Cauvery basin by collecting an amount of Rs 42 per sapling from each public donor. The collection of money from the public is disturbing as the foundation is expected to collect a whopping Rs 10,626 crore as donations, it stated.