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Funding row: HC seeks Centre’s response on plea of ‘Greenpeace’

The Delhi High Court today sought the Centre’s response on a plea of environment NGO ‘Greenpeace’ seeking directions to the government that foreign contribution to the tune of Rs 1.87 crore, meant for it, be credited in its bank account.

A bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru issued a notice to the Union Home Ministry and asked it to keep the freezed foreign donations as “interest-earning fixed deposit” till further orders.

The Home Ministry has been directed to file the reply as to whether the foreign contributions of Euros 235,000 (Rs 1.87 crore) be allowed to be credited in the NGO’s account with the IDBI bank in Chennai.

“The money will be kept in interest-earning fixed deposit account with the Respondent no. 2 (IDBI Bank Limited), till further order of this court,” Justice Bakhru said and fixed the matter for hearing on October 10.

The court, meanwhile, asked the ministry to file its counter affidavit within three weeks.

Jasmeet Singh, standing counsel for the Home Ministry, informed the court that he will seek instructions and file a short affidavit.

The court was hearing a petition filed by ‘Greenpeace India Society’ (GPIS) alleging that the Centre has taken action “without any rhyme or reason and without complying with the provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)”.

The Home Ministry has directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to take prior permission of the ministry’s FCRA department before clearing any foreign aid to ‘Greenpeace’ from Greenpeace International and Climate Works.

This directive, issued on June 13, 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.

Advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for Greenpeace, said the petition has been filed against the “uncommunicated and illegal prohibition imposed by the MHA in not allowing credit of the foreign funds in the petitioner’s FCRA Bank Account…In IDBI Bank Ltd, Chennai”.

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