NEW DELHI–The Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies has reportedly cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India, the environmental NGO.
The NGO that has been campaigning against air pollution and the unsustainable use of natural resources in India claimed the Ministry of Home Affairs was behind the move and called it “the latest assault on free speech in India” and a demonstration of the government’s “intolerance for dissent”.
It further stated that the cancellation of registration has come at a time when several international leaders, including the United Nations Secretary-General, have upheld the importance of civil society in healthy democracies.
Greenpeace India’s interim executive director Vinuta Gopal said in a press release, “The MHA’s clumsy tactics to suppress free speech and dissenting voices are turning into a major national and international embarrassment for this government. This is an extension of the deep intolerance for differing viewpoints that sections of this government seem to harbor.”
“The RoS 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,” Gopal said.
The development comes two months after the central government had cancelled the registration of environmental organisation under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act, thereby barring it from receiving funds from abroad. The government had said that the registration was cancelled as the NGO allegedly worked against the country’s economic progress.
On 1 October, The Madras High Court has asked the NGO to keep the government informed on its day-to-day expenses. “…It is also made clear that the petitioner shall not receive any foreign remittance until further orders. If any expenditure has to be made, that has to be accounted for by giving appropriate particulars to the respondent,” read the judgment by justice MM Sundresh.
The NGO will now challenge the order in the Madras High Court.
The NGO has said that they are confident that they are on “strong legal ground.” “We have faith in the legal process and are confident of overcoming this order,” Gopal said.