Karnataka HC Quashes ED Notice, Orders Unfreezing of Greenpeace’s Accounts

The court said the order lost its efficacy on account of "efflux of time", as the period of 60 days has expired.

New Delhi: The Karnataka high court quashed the October 2018 order of the Enforcement Directorate freezing the bank accounts of Greenpeace India.

On February 14, the court observed that “the impugned notice dated 05.10.2018 has lost its efficacy on account of efflux of time as the period of 60 days has expired.” Thus, “the impugned order dated 05.10.2018 is hereby quashed and the writ petition is disposed of.”

The NGO has welcomed the decision. Diya Deb, campaign director at Greenpeace India said the decision “not only strengthens our belief in democractic values and constitutional propriety” but also attests the stand that the organisation functions in accordance with Indian laws and for the “benefit of society at large”.

“We hope that the attempts to shut us down will continue to be thwarted by the Courts which recognize our Constitutional right to work for the benefit of environment and ecology,” Deb said.

In October 2018, the ED froze operations of Greenpeace’s 12 bank accounts as it suspected a violation of foreign exchange rules. The ED also contended that Greenpeace had set up a commercial entity, Direct Dialogues Initiative, to continue receiving foreign funds even after its licenses under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) were cancelled.

The Caravan reported in January that Greenpeace could be forced to cut its operations to half and even lay off staff as it was unable to pay salaries.