Currently, Greenpeace India’s FCRA registration is legitimate and valid: by virtue of its recent renewal by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, and an order by the Madras High Court granting a stay on renewed attempts by the MHA to cancel it.
Nonetheless, we are joining concerned and invested members of civil society to express solidarity with the 25 organisations that have had their FCRA registration cancelled by the Union Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) in their 2016 notices. (Extracts from the statement are included in this post, but to view the full statement, please click here. Please note, the statement is currently open for further endorsement by additional organisations.)
As we have witnessed recently, the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) has been turned into an instrument of repression, one that the government has used to cut off vital funding to groups that may hold positions contrary to the government’s own. By extension, the granting and cancelling of FCRA registration has become grist for the media mill, leaving many organisations including Greenpeace, battling false perceptions and responding to allegations of being ‘anti-national’ and ‘anti-development’ instead of being able to focus on our constructive campaigns for clean air, safe food and a healthy environment.
According to sources, Lawyers Collective, Compassion East India, People’s Watch, Sanchal Foundation Hazards Centre, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) and Institute of Public Health (Bengaluru) are among the 25 NGOs that have had their FCRA registrations cancelled.
As we say in the joint statement, we unequivocally condemn the present use of the FCRA as a tool of repression by the current government, and the systematic and sustained attempt to malign and criminalise those that stand for human rights and liberal values.
In April 2016, Maina Kiai, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, reiterated that the ability to access foreign funding is an integral part of the right to freedom of association, and said that the FCRA restrictions were not in conformity with international law principles and standards.
As part of a global network of organisations, committed to championing environmental justice across political borders, Greenpeace India has an important role to play in India: we have challenged development projects that put fragile habitats and communities at risk, and we have invested in projects like in Dharnai and Kedia to highlight the potential power of alternative, more sustainable development models. We have seen our campaigns succeed, as government agencies acknowledge the need to invest in positive solutions, and, in the most recent example, echo our stance that India needs ‘no new investment in coal’ to meet its energy requirements.
Thousands of Indian citizens make small monthly donations to keep our campaigns alive, while being part of a global organisation allows us to upscale our campaigns in keeping with India’s growing geopolitical influence across the world. But there are several other organisations, many of them much smaller in stature, organizations and individuals that stand for human rights and liberal values, for whom the FCRA is often their only route for funding. Those who have worked for the most marginalized and disempowered sections of society, while holding the government to account are being persecuted by the State under FCRA.
In solidarity with our allies in civil society, we demand that the cancellation of FCRA registration of these 25 organisations be revoked, and a fair and transparent judicial procedure be guaranteed to them.
1. Greenpeace India’s FCRA registration is currently valid, but is nonetheless the subject of constant conjecture. Over the last few months, we have deliberately chosen not to draw attention to the lengthy procedural issues surrounding the status of our FCRA registration, not least because they serve merely as a distraction from our campaigns on far more critical environmental issues. Although these matters are currently in court and therefore sub judice, in the interests of transparency the facts, as they stand, are thus:
- Since 2014, several attempts have been made to curtail Greenpeace India’s right to receive funds under FCRA, but every single time these attempts have been stayed and our rights have been upheld through a series of court orders.
- As a matter of routine procedure, we applied for renewal of our FCRA registration and it was renewed , as with other institutions from 1st November 2016 for a period of 5 years, as has been the norm.
- Yet another attempt was made by MHA to cancel our FCRA registration, but this ‘Revision Order’ too has been stayed by an order of the Madras High Court on the 5th of December 2016.
- In summary, therefore, the courts have consistently upheld Greenpeace India’s rights. Coupled with the steady support we have received from our Indian donors, this has only strengthened our resolve to continue our campaigns in defence of our shared environment.
2. Please see the a news report referencing the cancellation of 25 organisations’ FCRA: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Activities-not-conducive-to-national-interest-Jaising-NGO-24-others-denied-FCRA-licences/articleshow/55381082.cms
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