“You have no sense of responsibility. Do you think you have the liberty to say whatever you want?” the bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
NGT’s reaction came after the spiritual guru on April 18 blamed the government and the green panel for permitting his NGO Art of Living (AOL) to hold the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna river bed. They should be held responsible if any environmental damage was caused, he said.
The environment court termed the statement as “shocking”.
The tribunal observed this as advocate Sanjay Parikh, who appeared for petitioner Manoj Misra, informed the bench about Ravi Shankar’s statement finding fault in the government and the NGT for allowing his NGO to hold the World Culture Festival on Yamuna’s floodplains.
The lawyer told the court that the spiritual guru had posted the statement on the website of the Art of Living, his Facebook page and in a written statement to the media.
According to AOL head’s statement, the foundation had obtained all the necessary permissions and green panel’s nod. The event could have been stopped in the beginning itself if river Yamuna was so “fragile and pure,” it added.
“If, at all, any fine has to be levied, it should be levied on the Central and state governments and the NGT itself, for giving the permission. If the Yamuna was so fragile and pure, they should have stopped the World Culture Festival,” Ravi Shankar said in a Facebook post.
Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore Yamuna floodplain which was desolated due to a cultural extravaganza organised by AOL last year, an expert committee had told the NGT.
However, the counsel appearing for the AOL foundation challenged the findings of the panel and said that they have certain objections to it. Hence, the bench directed the foundation and other parties involved in the case to file their response and objection within two weeks.
For further discussion, the bench has postponed the case to May 9.