The three-day long ‘World Culture Festival’ organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) today crossed last minute hurdles as attempt to stall the mega show failed in the National Green Tribunal which gave more time to the organiser to pay Rs 5 crore fine.
However, the relief to the AOL Foundation came with a stinker from the green panel which took strong exception to the remarks of Ravi Shankar on refusal to pay Rs five crore environmental compensation and instead stating he would prefer to go to jail.
“When a man of his stature makes such statements, it hits the very rule of law. If anybody hurts the image of the tribunal, he will be taken to rule of law. Don’t treat tribunal as subject to your controversy with regard to the event,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.
During the over two-hour long proceeding in the jampacked court, the bench said that to maintain the dignity and majesty of the institutions, rule of law has to be upheld.
The panel directed AOL to pay Rs 25 lakh immediately failing which the grant of Rs 2.5 crore sanctioned to it by Centre will be attached.
The direction came after the Foundation said it was a charitable organisation and it was difficult for it to generate Rs five crore in such a short period of time. NGT had earlier asked AOL to pay this amount prior to the event.
The counsel said Ravi Shankar’s statements were made in a different context and they had no intent to disregard the conditions imposed by the tribunal.
The bench said that the tribunal is only concerned with compliance of its directions with regard to the pollution of river Yamuna during the course of event and asked all concerned authorities to ensure that conditions are complied with by AOL.
The panel, however, granted it three weeks time to pay remaining Rs 4.75 crore after AOL gives Rs 25 lakh immediately.
“Certainly, adherence of rule of law is the duty not only of the Government but of every citizen of the country. The rule of law is the very foundation of the administration of justice system.
“If the rule of law is undermined, it raises a challenge not only for the justice delivery system, but even on the capability of the Government to enforce the rule of law,” the panel said.