Madras High Court orders fresh arbitral proceedings into Isha Foundation’s Rs.2.5 crore phone bill case

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BSNL had raised bills amounting to Rs.2.5 crores against Isha Foundation for a period from December 2018 to January 2019.

Justice Senthil Kumar Ramamoorthy of Madras high court, yesterday, ordered fresh proceeding in a case pertaining to Isha Foundation’s non-payment of telephone bills due to the BSNL, the New Indian Express reported.

In 2019, BSNL had issued a bill of Rs 2.5 crore for phone usage by Isha Foundation for a period between December 2018 and January 2019, despite Isha’s credit being only Rs 66,900 a month. It was contended by Isha that prior to this bill, the regular monthly bill of the centre was less than Rs 22,000 a month for the last 10 years.

Isha challenged the bills before the high court. The high court appointed Justice (retd) E Padmanabhan as arbitrator. The arbitration resulted in quashing of the two bills and setting aside BSNL’s contentions for such high bill.

The arbitrator further ordered Isha Yoga Centre to deposit an average monthly amount of Rs 22,000 a month for two months- December 2018 and January 2019. BSNL challenged this order before the High Court.

Appearing for BSNL, P Wilson, Sr. Adv, argued that once calls were made and recorded in the exchange located inside the Isha Foundation, it cannot deny its liability on the ground that it had not made the calls.

It was argued that the arbitrator did not take into account the call records and many prima facie documents and relied solely on the evidence provided by a yogi at the ashram. Wilson said, “Men could lie, but not the machines.” He argued that the arbitrator accepted the version of the ashram and rejected the entire claim of BSNL.

Court, on hearing Wilson’s arguments, set aside the award and ordered fresh arbitral proceedings.