Madras HC stays order axing Greenpeace registration

Chennai/New Delhi : The Madras High Court on Friday stayed an order of the Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies cancelling the registration of Greenpeace India after it argued that the principles of natual justice were not followed, a senior advocate said.

“The court asked me why there had been no appeal to the Inspector General (Registerations) and why the court had been approached. Citing several Supreme Court judgements, I replied that when the principles of natural justice were violated, the only recourse was to move the high court,” senior advocate P.S. Raman, who led the NGO’s legal team, told IANS.

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“I also pointed out that of the 10 charges against Greenpeace, nine had already been dropped. This was because the registrar could not read the books of accounts holistically,” he added.

The court will hear the case after four weeks.

The NGO’s registration was cancelled on November 6 and it was asked to convene a meeting of its executive committee and dissolve the organisation. Greenpeace then approached the Madras High Court for redressal.

“We were confident the court would agree that Greenpeace is on sound legal footing and has done nothing wrong, notwithstanding the government’s ridiculous allegations of fraud in this instance. Our accounts are an open book and on our website for all to inspect” Priya Pillai, a senior campaigner of Greenpeace India, told IANS in New Delhi.

She said this was the sixth time in the last year-and-a-half that Greenpeace and its activists have succeeded against the government’s attempts to restrict its Indian operations.

Early this month, the Registrar of Societies cancelled the registration of the environmental NGO alleging irregularities and violations of rules.

Pillai said the court had stayed the cancellation order without any conditions or time limit but had not quashed the order. “The case will go on,” she added.

The Union home ministry had recently told Delhi High Court that it cancelled the foreign contribution registration of Greenpeace as it continued to use its Foreign Contribution Registration Act (FCRA) accounts despite its suspension.