The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has come down heavily on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) foundation for not depositing environment compensation of Rs 4.75 crore imposed on it for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity during its three-day ‘World Culture Festival’ in March, saying it was “wilful violation” of its undertakings.
The tribunal made it clear that corporate entity cannot be used to promote irregularities.
“In the present case, application filed by the foundation lacks bonafides. There is not an iota of averments in the application, forming justifiable cause or good season as to why the foundation did not comply with its undertakings and deposited the remaining amount within the time allowed by the tribunal, on the own request of the foundation.
“We have noticed that the conduct of the foundation is certainly not worthy of any appreciation. Today furnishing of a bank guarantee is subject to deposit of money, if the foundation can deposit the amount with the banks, then why not with the concerned authorities as directed, vide order dated March 9, 2016,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The tribunal said it would even lift the “corporate veil” and find “real substance” of the matter while examining the case to ascertain the truth.
“The concept of corporate entity cannot be used to encourage and promote irregularities. Under the colours of holding a cultural event, the foundation could not have caused irreparable damage to the environment, ecology and biodiversity of the river, particularly, the flood plain.
“The intent of the foundation lacked bonafides while giving undertakings to the tribunal, is evident from the records before the tribunal and the conduct of the foundation. In not depositing the amount, the foundation has committed wilful violation of its undertakings and assurances given at the bar,” it said.
The green panel on March 9 had refused to prohibit the three-day ‘World Culture Festival’, held by AOL between March 11 and 13, but asked it pay a compensation of Rs 5 crore for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna.
On March 11, AOL had moved a plea seeking four weeks time for depositing the amount after which the tribunal allowed the foundation to deposit Rs 25 lakh on that day and granted three weeks time period to pay the balance amount.