High court reprieve for Greenpeace

Access to two domestic accounts granted

High court reprieve for Greenpeace

In a relief for Greenpeace India, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday allowed it to access its two domestic accounts for receiving donations from within the country.

The High Court said the NGO could use these fresh donations for its day-to-day functioning while telling the government that it cannot restrict the outfit from accessing its funds.

The order came on a petition filed by Greenpeace India against the Union Home Ministry’s decision to suspend its registration to receive foreign funds and seeking the release of the frozen domestic accounts. The Union Home Ministry had  issued showcause notice to Greenpeace India last month .

Delivering the order, Justice Rajiv Shakdher said the NGO can liquidate its fixed deposits, saying these and fresh donations be used for its functioning.

The source of the fixed deposits could be determined by the government in the course of its probe and directed it to decide within eight weeks the NGO’s application under Rule 14 of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules (FCRR) which says that 25 per cent of the unutilised amount in the FCRA account can be used with government approval, it said.

Union Home Ministry officials said they were not viewing this order as a defeat as FCRA account is still under suspension. They said they will investigate into the source of fixed deposits.

The court also asked banks to explain why it’s January order was violated. “Do you go by orders of the court or that of the government,” it asked.

Reacting to the order, Greenpeace India in a statement described the interim relief a “lifeline” and vowed to “restart its campaigns to reduce air pollution, protect forests and boost solar power immediately”.

“The judge’s order allows Greenpeace India access to the regular donations from its Indian donors, as well as savings that the organisation held in fixed deposits. These are also funded from its Indian donations. Together, these represent the vast majority of Greenpeace India’s cash reserves,” it said.

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