The Karnataka High Court on Thursday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging construction activities at the Isha Yoga Centre in Chikkaballapura. A division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Ashok S Kinagi also pulled up the petitioner for not coming to the court with “clean hands”.
During the hearing, the court expressed its displeasure after it was informed about the criminal cases registered against the petitioners.
“We are only expecting that if a petitioner is approaching the court and submitting and saying that he is espousing a public cause, he should approach the court with clean hands. That is the minimum expectation," said the bench.
The petitioners had argued that construction at the Isha Yoga Centre was causing environmental degradation and defacing the entire ecosystem in the Foothills of Nandi Hills and Narasimha Devaru Range (Betta) NDB. They had also claimed that permission for construction was given in utter violation of environmental laws.
The Isha Foundation contended that it had bought the revenue lands after paying proper considerations and obtaining due permissions to get them converted for educational purposes. It also clarified that it has not received any grant or land from the government and that it was compliant with the law.
During the hearing, the Isha Foundation pointed out that petitioners had not disclosed their antecedents and the filing of criminal cases against them and that it amounts to a violation of various Supreme Court judgements as well as the PIL rules framed by the High Court of Karnataka.
Though the petitioners tried to defend by providing details of the cases and circumstances under which the cases have been registered, the court said it would not undertake the exercise of scrutiny of the circumstances.
“If somebody is not disclosing material facts and then approaching the court that I am a whistleblower and action should be taken against Mr X because he is a wrongdoer, the court expects that if you are raising a finger to Mr X there are already two fingers raised to yourself, therefore you should be a person of such a character that he can say yes I am coming to court with clean hands and I have a right as a vigilant citizen and moral right to ask Mr X, don’t do this thing. On this principle, law expects … it is not something which is an atomic formula,” the court said.
The HC on January 11 directed the Isha Foundation to maintain status quo on construction activities at its newly opened centre in Chikkaballapura. In a fresh order on January 13, however, the court permitted the Yoga Centre to go ahead with the unveiling of a 112-foot bust of Adiyogi, an exact replica of the one at the Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore.
Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai unveiled the statue on January 15.
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