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Spiritual Organisation Not Above Law, Karnataka HC Tells Sadhguru’s Isha Foundation

Spiritual Organisation Not Above Law, Karnataka HC Tells Sadhguru’s Isha Foundation

New Delhi: Chastising Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation for failing to declare how much it has collected for its ‘Cauvery Calling’ project, the Karnataka high court said on Tuesday that the organisation will have to file not just the amount, but also the methods it employed to collect it.

LiveLaw has reported that a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar told the foundation, “Do not be under the impression that you are not bound by law because you are a spiritual organisation.”

The bench was hearing a petition filed by A.V. Amarnathan, a lawyer, who requested the court to ask the Foundation not to collect more money from people. The court also demanded that it be specified by the foundation whether the funds were being collected voluntarily.

The project aims to achieve the twin purposes of arresting the depletion of the Cauvery’s water flow and the distress of farmers through the planting of trees. The project’s official website says its goal is to plant “242 crore trees”, out of which 4,66,93,937 have been “contributed till now.” The cost of each “tree” is a Rs 42 donation.

The web page calling for donations for Cauvery Calling.

The project has garnered support from the likes of climate activist and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, but remains controversial with civil society groups alleging its methods could be overtly simplistic and populist.

Also read: Isha Foundation’s Policy Doc to Revive Rivers Is High on Hope, Low on Reality

“If someone is creating awareness of rejuvenation activity it is most welcomed but not by forcibly collecting funds,” the bench was quoted as having said.

The four crore trees include 3.07 crores of saplings contributed by the government and other nurseries, says the website.

“The court also pulled up the state government for not carrying an independent inquiry on the complaints of the foundation allegedly collecting funds forcibly,” reported LiveLaw. A back and forth allegedly ensued where the state claimed it had not authorised Isha Foundation to carry out work on government land and the court retorting that it should have looked into the matter of funds being collected in its name.

Jaggi Vasudev had recently come in the way of criticism after delivering a talk on the Citizenship Amendment Act, over which protests have been seen throughout the country, without admittedly having read the Act.


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