It terms the petition as ‘frivolous’ and appreciates work of Isha
While appreciating the steps taken by Isha Outreach for afforestation through Cauvery Calling project, the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday dismissed a PIL petition, which had alleged that sapling are being planted on government lands by collecting huge donations from the public.
“In the present case, a categorical statement has been made by the State government that the project Cauvery Calling is not their [government’s] project, and planting of sapling is not being done either on the government land or on public land. Hence, the question of interference by this court in a ‘noble project’ like Cauvery Calling does not arise,” the court observed.
A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed the order while dismissing the petition filed in 2019 by city-based advocate A.V. Amaranathan, who was at a later stage dislodged by the court from prosecuting the petition for his conduct and treated it as a suo motu petition.
“We are 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 projects like Cauvery Calling,” the Bench observed.
The court also noticed that the project is being implemented on the Cauvery river basin by encouraging farmers to plant saplings only on their private lands, and that the Karnataka government is not financing the project.
“It is clear from the record that Cauvery Calling is not a project of the State government. The project is aimed to bring the river Cauvery back to her glory and to save the eco-system including the flora, fauna, and soil and ultimately and most importantly to save farmers, who depend on the river water for their livelihood,” the Bench observed.
Pointing out that no law that prohibits an individual/citizen from planting sapling on government was brought to the court’s notice and that Isha Outreach is not planting trees on government land, the Bench also said that “planting trees on barren land is not a crime. In case such a view is taken that planting trees on government land is prohibited, it will create havoc and a large number of plantations, which are going on in government land by NGOs without any motive will come to a standstill.”
While terming the petition as “frivolous” one, the Bench said “in fact, no prudent person will file such a PIL to restrain a body/person from planting trees on their own private land”.
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