The Madras high court on Wednesday granted an interim stay for eight weeks on the government's cancellation of Greenpeace India Society's registration under Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA).
Justice MM Sundresh stayed the Union home ministry's order of September 2 cancelling FCRA 2010 registration number of the NGO's and issued a notice to it, returnable in eight weeks.
Greenpeace India's executive director had filed a petition challenging the cancellation, saying the Centre was taking recourse to the "draconian and unconstitutional" provisions of FCRA "after having failed in its earlier misadventures."
"First they suspended the petitioner's registration number under FCRA and then issued order to freeze the petitioner's bank account, including accounts used purely for deposit of domestic funds."
Greenpeace had already fought several rounds of litigations, including one where it won order permitting the NGO to access its domestic funds, on the ground that domestic funds were beyond the scope of FCRA.
The recent order cancelling FCRA registration of the NGO has been on nine grounds including one which says Greenpeace transferred its foreign contributions worth Rs 8.05 lakh in 2010-11 to employees of Greenpeace Environment Trust in "violation" of FCRA rules.
The NGO said the charge was "wholly false" and that no such transfer was made in violation of the law.
The Centre has alleged that Greenpeace utilized more than 50% of foreign contributions for 2011-12 and 2012-13 for administrative expenditure, which is prohibited by Section 8(1)(b) of FCRA.
The NGO's petition said this was also a false charge.
Though the Centre claims to possess "information and evidence" to conclude that Greenpeace has "violated" FCRA provisions, the NGO has not been furnished any copy of any such information or evidence, despite repeated requests. "The society, thereby, has been denied an opportunity to defend itself," the petition said.
The petition claimed that even typographical errors in its documents have been concluded as mistatements and wilful default and added that even before the cancellation order was passed, press releases were issued "betraying the malafide" intention of the government.