More reports on: Government policies

Madras high court stays order cancelling Greenpeace registration

21 November 2015

The Madras high court on Friday granted a stay on the Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies' order cancelling the registration of the environment group Greenpeace India, observing that the authorities did not follow the principles of natural justice while taking action against the NGO (See: Crackdown continues: Greenpeace India's registration cancelled).

Greenpeace India was registered as an NGO in India under the Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies (RoS).

The high court stayed the process of cancelling the environment group's registration on a petition by the NGO.

State authorities had summarily cancelled its licence earlier this month, which could have led to restricting its operations and channels of funding.

This is the sixth time in the past year and a half that Greenpeace and its activists are facing government action aimed at shutting it down.

Greenpeace, however, has succeeded against multiple attempts to restrict its operations and funding, and actions aimed at shutting it down.

The Tamil Nadu registrar of societies in its letter had said the society did not file its annual returns within the stipulated time for three years, in 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2009 as reason for action.

''We were confident the courts would agree that Greenpeace is on sound legal footing and has done nothing wrong, notwithstanding the government's ridiculous allegations of fraud,'' Priya Pillai of Greenpeace India was quoted as saying.

''Our accounts are an open book and on our website for all to inspect,'' she added.

''The MHA's (ministry of home affairs) clumsy tactics, to suppress free speech and dissenting voices, are turning into a major national and international embarrassment for this government,'' she added.

Greenpeace India Society's advocate Vineet Subramani said he was happy the court granted an unconditional stay on the cancellation of registration.

''We draw tremendous strength from victories like these, as they prove we are secure in both our mandate for a green and peaceful future as well as our constituency of lakhs of Indian supporters,'' Pillai said.

"As a people-powered organisation, instead of fighting and winning legal battles, we would much rather continue to contribute to solve India's serious development challenges - air pollution, disappearing forests, the need for safe food and clean electricity for all. Surely, solving these problems is part of the government's agenda too. We'd like to once again ask them to collaborate with civil society on these issues".

Greenpeace has accused government authorities of placing its campaigners on the ''suspicious persons' list'' and barring their exit and entry into the country.

Earlier this year, Pillai was offloaded from a flight to London where she was to address British MPs (Greenpeace's Pillai vindicated; HC says 'this is a democracy').

The centre has cancelled the foreign funding licences of around 9,000 charities since a major crackdown began in April (Govt blocks flow of foreign funds to Greenpeace, other NGOs).

and placed the US-based Ford Foundation and Christian charity Caritas on a watch list (Ford Foundation on home ministry's watch list).

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