New Delhi, Sep 3 IANS | 3 months ago

The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the central government on a plea by environment NGO Greenpeace seeking to release its foreign funds of around Rs.1.87 crore that was blocked by the Reserve Bank following a home ministry directive.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru sought response from the home ministry by Oct 10.

He also asking the ministry that Greenpeace India's blocked funds be moved from the RBI's account to the NGO's account with the IDBI Bank.

The money has to be put in a fixed deposit until Oct 10, the court said.

In June, a report of the Intelligence Bureau submitted to the home ministry alleged Greenpeace India of misusing foreign funds to hamper India's economic growth.

Pursuant to the report, the ministry issued a directive to the RBI asking it to put on hold all foreign contributions originating from Greenpeace International and Climate Works Foundation meant for Greenpeace India.

The RBI was directed by the home ministry to take prior permission of the ministry's FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) department before clearing any foreign aid to Greenpeace India.

Issued June 13, the home ministry directive put on hold the direct funding of the NGO from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-to-case basis by the RBI.

Greenpeace India Society (GPIS) alleged in the court that the action taken by the central government was without any reason.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace India Wednesday said it "follows all laws of the land and is completely transparent in its operations".

"The high court's direction throws light on the arbitrary manner in which the government has attempted to muzzle voices of dissent in the name of financial scrutiny," said Samit Aich, executive director of Greenpeace India.

"But in the absence of any communication from the government, the NGO is forced to believe that the home ministry is attempting to financially choke and discredit Greenpeace India in order to proceed smoothly with its pro-corporate agenda."

In July, Greenpeace India had written to the ministry seeking relevant documents on the basis of which the FCRA was stopped.

"The government has not responded yet," Aich said in a statement.

(Posted on 04-09-2014)

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