A week after the Intelligence Bureau (IB) submitted a report to the Prime Minister’s Office calling foreign-funded NGO Greenpeace “a threat to national economic security”, the Essar Group on Monday sought to include the IB report as supporting evidence in the defamation suit filed against the NGO in the Bombay High Court.
On January 22, Greenpeace had rolled down a banner that read “We kill forests: Essar” along the Essar House, the company’s headquarters at Mahalaxmi. The Essar group then filed a Rs 500 crore defamation suit against the NGO. The protest was against Essar Power’s plans to start mining at Mahan in Madhya Pradesh. Besides Greenpeace, the other defendants in the suit include NGOs Clear Sweep and Mahan Sangharsh Samiti.
“A defence they (Greenpeace) have raised is that the agitation was in public interest and it is a fair comment. We wanted to justify whether it is in public interest or not and whether it is a fair comment or a motivated comment,” said senior counsel Venkatesh Dhond, who argued for the firm.
Counsel for Greenpeace Mihir Desai said, “The Essar Group had sought time to file an affidavit, to bring on-record, facts arising out of the IB report.” The suit filed by Essar alleged that the 12 demonstrators from Greenpeace, entered the company’s premises under the pretext of cleaning the building.
However, they rolled down the 36x72 feet defamatory banner along the highrise located in Central Mumbai.
Earlier, the court had come down heavily on the NGO and asked them to remove defamatory content against the Essar Group including that from their website, posters and leaflets. The court had also restrained the NGO from entering the Essar House premises or holding agitations within 100 metre from the building.
The Intelligence Bureau report on foreign-funded NGOs accused Greenpeace of unlawful funding, allegedly aiding an Aam Aadmi Party candidate in the recent Lok Sabha elections and called it “a threat to national economic security” by protesting against nuclear and coal plants,
The report also stated that Greenpeace, “actively aided and led by foreign activists visiting India”, of violating the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 2010 (FCRA), and financing “sympathetic studies” at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and at IIT-Delhi.