The Madras high court on Friday stayed a Tamil Nadu government order cancelling Greenpeace India’s registration, observing the state’s registrar of societies did not follow the principles of natural justice while taking action against the NGO.
Acting on a petition by Greenpeace, the court stayed the process to invalidate the environmental group’s registration after state authorities summarily cancelled its licence earlier this month.
This is the sixth time in the past year and a half that Greenpeace and its activists have succeeded against multiple attempts to restrict its operations and funding, as also actions aimed at shutting it down.
In the cancellation letter, the Tamil Nadu registrar of societies had said the society did not file its annual returns within the stipulated time for three years, in 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2009.
“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.
In recent months, 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. The Centre has cancelled the foreign funding licences of around 9,000 charities since a major crackdown began in April and placed the US-based Ford Foundation and Christian charity Caritas on a watch list.