In an interim relief to Greenpeace India, the Delhi high court on 27 May permitted it to use its two domestic accounts to receive fresh domestic donations.
The court directive allows the organisation, whose seven accounts were frozen by the Indian home ministry on alleged Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) violations, to liquidate its fixed deposits.
The hearing followed a writ filed by Greenpeace India following the government action blocking its accounts and suspending its license for six months, which had barred it from receiving foreign funds.
The Home Ministry insisted in its affidavit that the NGO had four additional utilisation accounts into which foreign contribution was being diverted and merged with the domestic contributions.
Greenpeace clarified that the transfers are first made out of the Indian funds. "If any of the expenses incurred can be charged to our foreign accounts, we then make a reimbursement into the Indian accounts. This is in no way a violation of the FCRA."
Greenpeace India Executive Director Samit Aich said in a release, "We're enormously relieved that the court has given us this lifeline. We are now able to continue our campaigns on air pollution and solar power while we prepare to fight the main case. We trust that the MHA will respect the judge's decision and not take any further arbitrary actions between now and then."
The government which views the organisation as blocking development projects on the instigation of foreign interests had accused Greenpeace of misusing funds to violate the interests of the country.
The NGO has stood by its claim that all its funds are from individual supporters and not from governments and corporates. In the last year, nearly 70% of their income came from ordinary Indians, said Aich.
The mobilisation carried out by Greenpeace against granting mining rights in the forests of Mahan in Madhya Pradesh had resulted in its activist Priya Pillai being barred by the government from travelling to the UK to testify before a British parliamentary panel on the matter.
Eventually the government decided not to put the coal mine up for auction as the project had not received environmental approvals.