The Karnataka High Court on Friday removed petitioner AV Amarnathan from the public interest litigation filed by him seeking directions to Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation to not collect funds from the public for the Cauvery Calling Project, Live Law reported. The court said Amarnathan’s conduct was not that befitting a pro-bono litigant, and turned the PIL into a suo motu petition.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi had ordered Amarnathan to justify his conduct of sending an email to Discovery Channel in which he threatened to file a contempt of court case if it aired a programme on the Cauvery Calling Project.

The bench noted that in his affidavit, Amarnathan, instead of showing remorse had justified his actions. “Therefore we cannot allow the petitioner to prosecute this petition as a pro-bono litigant,” it said. “Orders passed by this court from time to time will show that the issue raised in the petition will have to be gone into. Therefore this petition will have to be treated as suo-motu.”

The bench said Amarnathan could not decide whether airing such a programme would amount to contempt of court. It said that instead of adopting an “appropriate remedy”, Amarnathan virtually threatened Discovery Channel through his email.

In his affidavit, Amarnathan said that he did not threaten the channel but simply informed it that the airing of the programme may amount to contempt of court. He relied on a judgement of the High Court to justify his warning. The channel was supposed to air the programme on August 14. However, it cancelled the airing after the petitioner served the legal notice.

‘Cauvery Calling’

Isha Foundation founder Jaggi Vasudev had announced the launch of the campaign in July last year. “The movement will support lakhs of farmers in the Cauvery basin to plant 242 crore trees in an economic plan that is expected to revive not just the river but the fortunes of farmers in the basin as well,” the foundation had said.

The volume of money being gathered to plant the trees is said to be Rs 10,000 crore. According to Amarnathan, this is a major scam.

On January 7, the court had asked the Isha Foundation to disclose the amount it had collected for the project. “Do not be under the impression that you are not bound by law because you are a spiritual organisation,” the court had warned.