Stating that Greenpeace India has “continued to violate FCRA norms”, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the registration of the NGO under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
In an affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court Thursday, the MHA said the decision to cancel the FCRA registration was taken at a meeting Wednesday. The MHA had earlier said Greenpeace India “mixed foreign and domestic funds” and had “not disclosed the movement of funds properly”.
Responding to the MHA affidavit, Greenpeace India issued a statement that it would “continue its campaign” despite the government’s “onslaught against the community’s right to dissent”.
In April this year, the MHA suspended registration of the NGO saying it had violated norms by opening five accounts to use foreign donations without informing the authorities concerned. On MHA directions, the IDBI, ICICI and Yes Bank had frozen the NGO’s accounts.
Greenpeace India then moved an application challenging the “arbitrary decision” of the MHA and was granted relief on May 27 by the court which allowed it to use two of its accounts for receiving and utilising fresh domestic donations for day-to-day functioning.
It also allowed the NGO to liquidate its fixed deposits, saying these and fresh donations should be used for its aims and objectives, and in accordance with law.
The NGO moved an application seeking an order “directing respondents 1 (MHA) and 2 (IDBI) to remit/transfer 148,608 Euros, that was blocked by the incidental measures impugned in the writ petition, transferred by Stichting Greenpeace Council (Greenpeace International) to petitioner’s (Greenpeace India) FCRA account…”
Fixing hearing on the matter for September 4, the bench had sought replies from the MHA and the bank. On Friday, the case is to come up for hearing before the bench of Justice V P Vaish.
On Thursday, after the MHA filed its affidavit, Vinuta Gopal, interim co-executive director of Greenpeace India, issued a statement: “The cancelling of our FCRA registration is the government’s latest move in a relentless onslaught against the community’s right to dissent. It is yet another attempt to silence campaigns for a more sustainable future and transparency in public processes.”
“Cutting access to our foreign funding may be a desperate attempt to get us to cease our work, but the MHA probably didn’t count on our having an amazing network of volunteers and supporters who have helped us continue our work despite the government crackdown,” she said.
“Since the majority of our funding comes from Indian citizens, most of our work can indeed continue. In fact, we are responding to this latest melodrama by launching a new creative online campaign and are confident that people will show they are ready to fight back in style, and send a clear message to those in power: you just can’t muzzle dissent in a democracy,” Gopal said.