Greenpeace yet to access blocked funds

January 04, 2015 12:59 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:02 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Even as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cracked down on four more NGOs, Greenpeace India’s access to funds remains in a limbo despite a Delhi High Court order last year.

When the case comes up for hearing on January 20, the court has to decide on the affidavit filed by the MHA which demands dismissal of a writ petition filed by Greenpeace India, challenging the blocking of funds.

Last year remittance to Greenpeace India of Euros 234,975.50 was blocked after an MHA order to the Reserve Bank of India(RBI), an order which the NGO has yet to see. The NGO was orally informed by its bank that RBI had instructions to obtain prior clearance from the MHA before the funds could be credited to its account.

After Greenpeace filed a writ petition in September 2014 challenging the blocking of funds under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the High Court sent a notice to the MHA and asked it to file a counter affidavit. It also said that any remittance received by Greenpeace would be kept in an interest-bearing fixed deposit till further orders.

Meanwhile, the NGO received a letter dated July 28, 2014, in which the MHA asked it to furnish details of projects where the blocked funds would be used, in the next 15 days. However, Greenpeace said while the letter is dated July 28, 2014, it was received through Speed Post on September 8, 2014, five days after the High Court order.

Under the FCRA guidelines, Greenpeace India maintains that it does not fall in the “prior permission category” to receive foreign funds.Divya Raghunandan, programme director of Greenpeace, told The Hindu there was no rationale behind the MHA blocking the funds. “They sent a team to our Chennai office last October where they scrutinised every document and accounts statements for four days,” she said.

This was the first time there was a formal communication from the MHA and it was in connection with its proposed visit to the Greenpeace office, she added.

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