New Delhi: The Delhi high court (HC) on Wednesday allowed environmental campaigning group Greenpeace India to receive fresh domestic donations and use its fixed deposit savings.

The temporary relief from the court came after the Union government, angered by Greenpeace’s environmental campaigns, froze the organization’s accounts, and prohibited it from accepting both domestic and foreign contributions.

Greenpeace, a non-governmental organization, claimed the government action had the potential to end its work in the country.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher, as a temporary measure, allowed Greenpeace to receive domestic contributions in two of its accounts. Greenpeace was set to receive approximately 1.25 crore in June, it said in court. The organization will also be allowed to use its fixed deposits of nearly 7.8 crore.

The court also pulled up three banks—IDBI Bank Ltd, Yes Bank Ltd and ICICI Bank Ltd—for violating its order of 20 January and sought responses from them in that regard. The banks made a party to the case by Greenpeace for freezing its bank accounts without a court order.

“Do you follow the court’s orders or orders of the executive?" judge Shakdher asked the lawyer for IDBI Bank.

A 20 January ruling by Shakdher found that there were no grounds for the banks to block Greenpeace’s access to its accounts.

Greenpeace India, in a statement on Wednesday, called the interim relief a “lifeline" and vowed to immediately restart its campaigns to reduce air pollution, protect forests and boost solar power.

“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 (ministry of home affairs) will respect the judge’s decision and not take any further arbitrary actions between now and then," said Samit Aich, executive director of Greenpeace India.

The court also asked the government to decide within eight weeks a plea by Greenpeace to release up to 25% of their foreign contribution, as per the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Rules.

Greenpeace argued that by freezing its bank accounts, the government had stopped domestic contributions to the organisation. It claimed that it had lost nearly 1.25 crore in May. It also argued that the government did not have the authority to stop domestic donations under the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976 (FCRA).

The government, however, said Greenpeace had violated FCRA by merging its domestic and foreign contributions and by opening five accounts to use its foreign donations.

Greenpeace claimed that the home ministry’s freeze on its accounts was unconstitutional and arbitrary.

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