The Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies has cancelled the registration of environment group Greenpeace India on Friday. It was registered in Chennai.
The move amounts to closure of all operations by the group, which has been at odds with the Union home ministry since 2014 over issues relating to foreign contributions and alleged activities against national interest. A letter dated November 4 by the district registrar, Chennai (South), says the non-government organisation (NGO) had violated provisions of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975. These specifically involve the under reporting of contributions received from foreign sources for the years 2004-06 and 2009-10.
Other allegations include the group not being independent in its operations, having been under the authority of a foreign entity – Stichting GreenPeace Council, Netherlands. The registrar’s office held that the head of the group was appointed by this entity. Greenpeace has, however, responded to both allegations maintaining it was in a free association with the Netherland-based entity and that all income, from both domestic as well as foreign sources, has been reported correctly under existing laws.
This includes the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, which the ministry of home affairs (MHA) had argued in May was being misused by the group. The MHA had suspended the group’s FCRA registration. But the Delhi High Court had subsequently permitted the group partial access to funds under it.
Reacting to the latest development, Vinuta Gopal, interim executive director, said, “The Registrar of Societies is clearly acting under directions from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi, which has been trying to shut Greenpeace India down for over a year now. The MHA’s clumsy tactics to suppress free speech and dissenting voices are turning into a major national and international embarrassment for this government.” The group also complained that it was not granted a hearing and an earlier Madras High Court order mandating that its concerns be addressed by the government have not been complied with.
Pursuant to its order, the registrar’s office has ordered the group to dissolve itself through an internal resolution. It added non-compliance will attract forced liquidation after a period of 30 days. Greenpeace India has the option to appeal to the inspector-general of registration, Chennai.
Speaking to Business Standard , Greenpeace maintained that all future action would be determined by a meeting of the group’s management. However, it added that it was sure all further court decisions, “will be arbitrary”, and that it had been targeted illegally for a long time now.