After filing a Rs 500-crore lawsuit in Bombay High Court last year to prevent Greenpeace from saying anything against Essar, it was their second attempt to browbeat locals in villages of Mahan and stifle all voices of opposition against Mahan coal mine which will feed Essar’s 1,200MW thermal power plant, the NGO claimed. In their interim relief request, Essar had pleaded with the court for Greenpeace to be restrained from being within a perimeter of 100 meters from the Essar power plant, their fly ash storage pond and their rehabilitation colony in Nagwa. It had also pleaded for an interim gag order that would prevent Greenpeace from making statements or publishing anything, including media articles in print or electronically on social media websites, leaflets, banners etc.
The court rejected the interim relief request and noted that Essar Power had prima facie failed to establish its case for grant of interim relief. Greenpeace India has no restraining order on approaching the perimeter of said establishments and is at liberty to continue to publish material in any form, as it chooses. The court also observed that the Essar Power had failed to prima facie make out its claim that the activities of Greenpeace in its periphery would be such that compensation would not be able to replace the damage.
“We welcome the court’s decision and are happy that the court has dismissed the plea. This was yet another Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) designed to attack freedom of speech. SLAPP suits are filed by corporations and governments to intimidate, censor, and silence critics by burdening them with a slew of lawsuits, draining them financially and emotionally until they abandon the opposition or criticism,” said Priya Pillai. Senior campaigner with Greenpeace India, Pillai recently offloaded from her London-bound flight as she was on her way to address British MPs about the violations Essar Power has been committing in Mahan. Essar Power is a subsidiary of Essar Energy -a company registered in London.