For Immediate Release
Washington DC: (202) 462-1177
San Francisco: (415) 255-9221
Greenpeace India’s Challenge Over Blocked Funds Accepted by High Court
The Delhi High Court today agreed to rule on Greenpeace India’s legal challenge to the Minister of Home Affairs’ decision to block the group’s international and national bank accounts.
NEW DEHLI, India - The court issued notices to the home ministry and several Indian banks calling on them to respond to Greenpeace India’s writ petition which is to be heard on Tuesday 26th May.
“We believe we have a strong case”, said Samit Aich, Executive Director of Greenpeace India. “We’re calling for the order to be quashed because of the arbitrary and unconstitutional way the home minister has acted. Freezing both our national and international bank accounts is beyond the scope of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act and the jurisdiction of the home ministry.”
In court today, the judge asked Greenpeace India to declare what resources it would need to continue to function normally until August. Greenpeace India is currently collating this information and will provide it imminently.
Aich continued: “Our national bank accounts contain donations from thousands of Indian citizens who give as little as 350 rupees a month. Because they’re blocked we’ve had to scale back our campaigns on things like air pollution and solar street lighting. Our staff and their families are facing an uncertain future, but are showing amazing passion and spirit.”
Greenpeace argues that the home minister’s actions show evidence of ‘bad faith’ and are an attempt to silence Greenpeace India because of its high profile campaigns in areas like coal mining, air pollution and the use of pesticides in agriculture.
The Delhi High Court has also called on three major Indian banks to respond - IDBI Bank, Yes Bank and ICICI Bank. Greenpeace India’s petition claims that these banks did not have the right to freeze the accounts without a court order and their actions represent a breach of trust.
In a separate case on January 20th 2015, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of Greenpeace India, ordering the government to release €235,000 to Greenpeace India, which the court said had been blocked ‘arbitrarily and unconstitutionally’ in June 2014. In March, the court also overturned Priya Pillai’s travel ban, which was also orchestrated by the home ministry.
“This is not about Greenpeace India alone. This is about the government trying to silence those who raise uncomfortable questions and shine a light on the destruction of India’s environment and the violation of Indian laws to benefit a powerful few. Greenpeace campaigns for a better, safer, just and more sustainable environment for Indians and people across the world," says Aich.
He added: "We ask the Home Minister to address the issues we raise directly, instead of using these heavy handed measures that undermine the democratic values of our country."
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