Media Briefing: Greenpeace India’s response to MHA’s show cause notice of 9th April 2015

Press release - May 8, 2015
8th May 2015 -- Greenpeace India today delivered a comprehensive rebuttal of allegations made by the ministry of home affairs over its internal finances and its compliance with the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

According to Greenpeace India, the ‘show cause’ notice dated 9th April contained clerical errors, as well as baseless allegations that completely undermine the MHA’s decision to block access to several of Greenpeace’s domestic bank accounts.

The full Greenpeace India response is available on our website. Below are details about some of the key weaknesses in the MHA’s case:

  • The MHA claimed that Greenpeace has made incorrect statements about Foreign Contributions, but the difference between the Greenpeace and MHA figures is just 0.64% of its entire foreign funding over 6 years. The FCRA only targets ‘knowing errors’.  There is clearly no reason for Greenpeace India to either overstate or understate such a small amount knowingly or intentionally.  
  • On 20 January 2015 the Delhi High Court ordered the MHA to unfreeze a previous transfer of funds from Greenpeace International, holding that to deny access to those funds “invoked principles of natural justice.”  Despite this, the MHA blocked a sum of approx RS 1 crore sent by Greenpeace International on 23rd March.  No notice was given to Greenpeace India about this until 9th April.  By blocking access to these funds and failing to provide reasons for doing so, the MHA has shown flagrant disregard for natural justice and due process.  Greenpeace India is now considering appropriate legal action.
  • A central claim is that Greenpeace transferred money from its foreign account to its domestic accounts in violation of the FCRA. In order to keep the accounts absolutely clean, the transfers are first made out of the Indian funds and 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.
  • Some of the MHA’s allegations relate to transactions that occurred years before the 2010 FCRA act was signed into law. And yet the Ministry attempts to apply this law retrospectively, which is clearly not justified.
  • One of the more bizarre accusations relates to the physical location of the Greenpeace India office, which the MHA claims has moved. The address of Greenpeace’s HQ in Bangalore is listed clearly on the website, and many Indian organisations are registered in a different location to their HQ.
  • One allegation relates to the alleged transfer of funds between Greenpeace India Society and the Greenpeace India Environment Trust. But the records clearly show that these were bank errors which were reversed by the bank. Evidence of this has been provided to the MHA.  
  • In its response to the show cause notice, Greenpeace India politely points out a series of basic clerical errors in the MHA document, while comparing the ‘zero tolerance’ approach of the ministry to Greenpeace’s own unintentional clerical errors. Every large organisation makes occasional clerical errors - these are not evidence of any deliberate intent.
  • While the MHA claims that Greenpeace India spent over 50% of its foreign contribution on administrative expenses, Greenpeace figures clearly show that this figure was less than 15%. The MHA claims that research and campaign jobs are ‘administrative’, which is clearly absurd.
  • Greenpeace has admitted that it made a clerical error in not including a figure of Rs.6,60,31,783/- as the opening balance of foreign contribution in 2007-08. The MHA has claimed that this is ‘untenable’ and used this as a reason to freeze our accounts. However, the truth is that Greenpeace did report this amount to the FCRA in its online submission for the same period - which is on the MHA’s website, and also included this figure in the closing balances of the reports. This evidence demonstrates that Greenpeace did not intend to hide anything.
  • The MHA claims that the FCRA rules were broken because the payment of bail costs was not specifically approved by the donor (in this case Greenpeace International). But this is Greenpeace. Paying the costs of bail for our activists is a regular occurrence for an organisation that engages in peaceful direct action.


Anindita Datta Choudhury: Communication Specialist, Greenpeace India; +91 9871515804;

Avinash Chanchal: Communication Specialist, Greenpeace India; +91 8359826363;

Jitendra Kumar: Communication Specialist, Greenpeace India; +91 9868167337;