Delhi high court on Tuesday directed the government to “unblock” foreign contributions to the tune of Rs 1.87 crore received by controversial NGO ‘Greenpeace’ from its Amsterdam headquarters, saying the ministry showed “no material to restrict access” to the foreign fund.
“According to me, there is no material on record to restrict the petitioner (Greenpeace India Society) from accessing the bank account with the IDBI bank in Chennai,” Justice Rajiv Shakdher said while observing that the “amount in fixed deposited in the bank be unblocked and transferred to the NGO’s account”.
The court further said the inspection in the matter has already been carried out by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) and they have produced no material on record against the NGO here and Greenpeace International.
“So at least at this juncture it is not good enough to hold back Greenpeace India from using their account,” it said.
It observed that MHA in its reply had stated that Greenpeace India Society (GPIS) can have access to all other foreign funds except those from Greenpeace International as it has been put on a watch-list.
The court also observed that all NGOs were entitled to have their viewpoints and merely because their views are not in consonance with that of the government’s, it does not mean they were acting against national interest.
The court order came during hearing of a petition filed by GPIS alleging that the government has taken action “without any rhyme or reason and without complying with the provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)”.
The MHA had directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to take prior permission of the ministry’s FCRA department before clearing any foreign aid to ‘Greenpeace’ from Greenpeace International and Climate Works.
This directive, issued on June 13 last year, put on hold direct funding of the NGO from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-to-case basis by the RBI.
Meanwhile, the court said the government was free to take action against GPIS in future if it found violation of FCRA norms.
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