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Greenpeace India Wins Court Battle

By Altaf Ahmad
2015-05-28
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Greenpeace India activists unfurl banners outside their headquarters in Bangalore to protest the central government’s blocking of its bank accounts, May 15, 2015.
AFP

In a major victory for Greenpeace India, the Delhi High Court this week allowed the environmental group to access two of its seven bank accounts, which the Indian government had blocked last month.

Wednesday’s verdict will enable the activist group to cover its day-to-day expenses and receive donations from sources across India.

“All our offices in India have started working normally and the threat of closure of our operations is over, at least for the time being. Now we will be able to pay salaries to staff and continue our operations effectively,” Greenpeace India spokesman Jitendra Kumar told BenarNews.

“More importantly, the court also allowed access to savings that the group held in ‘fixed deposits.’ The group will intensify its campaigns to protect forests, reduce air pollution, and boost solar power in India,” he added.

Greenpeace petitioned the court on May 14 in response to a recent move by the government to cancel the group’s registration and freeze its accounts over allegations that it misreported funding from foreign countries.

The court also ordered the government to release 25 percent of the blocked funds remaining in foreign contribution accounts, in addition to the fixed deposits.

On Tuesday, the home ministry had argued that Greenpeace India violated the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) by merging its foreign donations with domestic ones, Indian media reported.

The activist group told the court that the government’s freezing of its accounts caused it to lose 12.5 million rupees (U.S. $195,952) in May, and it was bound to lose the same amount in June if the accounts remained frozen, according to livemint.com.

“The government has launched a malicious campaign against the activist group. However, the court in today’s judgment realized that we have a right to survive and work for the betterment of people at large,” Avi Singh, defense counsel of the group, told BenarNews.

“We will continue our fight unless all accounts are unfrozen and restrictions lifted,” he added.

Some Indian citizens also hailed the verdict.

“The judiciary must have realized the importance of working on environmental issues, especially reducing the alarmingly high levels of pollution in India. The government too should support the group striving for ‘clean India,’” said Naresh Butt, a political science student at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

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