TERI sexual harassment case: Pachauri, senior officials accused of 'coaxing' to settle out of court - Firstpost
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TERI sexual harassment case: Pachauri, senior officials accused of 'coaxing' to settle out of court

Fresh reports have emerged that RK Pachauri of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), accused of sexually harassing a 29-year-old woman researcher in February last year, a male researcher has now alleged pressure from seniors in TERI to 'ask' the complainant to settle out of court. The male researcher filed a complaint with the Delhi police that the senior officials asked him to opt for an out-of-court settlement. However, the news channel reported that Dinesh Verma of TERI has denied the allegations.

According to this Economic Times report, the male researcher was told in a "patronising" tone that he should reach out to his "lady friend and get her to settle it out of Court as this will be good for her as there is nothing more left to achieve". The male researcher also complained that as many as four officials working in senior positions in TERI "coaxed and cajoled" him to approach the woman researcher (complainant). The male researcher has resigned from the organisation citing "appalling" and "insensitive" conduct of TERI officials, according to the Economic Times report.

This comes after repeated complaints from the victim that the organisation has done nothing to help her case and that Pachauri is still the "most influential man" in the organisation. The male researcher told ET that instead of removing Pachauri, the organisation instead promoted him to an executive position. He added that he was willing to be deposed in front of the court and wants to "bolster others to come forward and tell the truth."

The case

RK Pachauri. Getty Images

RK Pachauri. Getty Images

In February last year, the researcher registered an FIR in Delhi, alleging that the director-general of TERI had committed offences under Sections 354, 354A, 354D, 506 of IPC, which deal with outraging the modesty of a woman, sexual harassment, stalking, and criminal intimidation, respectively. The complaint stated that Pachauri had started making inappropriate advances towards the researcher soon after she joined the organisation in 2013.

According to The Economic Times report about the incident, the inappropriate behaviour included, "unwanted physical advances, emails, text and WhatsApp messages" and that such behaviour continued even after she asked him to stop. Before approaching the police, the researcher had filed a complaint within the organisation as well, where Pachauri is the top-hat and has been since 1981.

The woman researcher quit the organisation shortly after. According to Gulf News, she alleged that the think tank treated her in the "worst possible manner" and failed to "uphold my (her) interests as an employee."

RK Pachauri and his 'influence'

Naina Lal Kidwai who ended her 13-year-stint at HSBC as chairman told The Economic Times that many women members of staff were rooting for Pachauri and that a senior team requested that the 'person under evaluation return'. However, the complainant rubbished such claims and said that the employees were unhappy with his return and had written an anonymous letter expressing "anxiety and distress" from Pachauri's return. However, the governing council in TERI according to the complainant ignored this letter.

An employee who spoke to Quint, said that employees at TERI are divided — while the older lot are blinded by his achievements, the younger lot are disgruntled; "Due credit should be given to the man for his work, but something like this cannot be forgiven," the former employee told the web journal.

According to Business Standard, Pachauri went on leave when the allegations were fresh, but joined work in July 2015, armed with court orders, quashing the internal committee report that found him guilty of misconduct. According to the journal, one of the two female members of the governing council also resigned during this period as "matter of principle" since she believed that Pachauri should have stepped down till he was absolved.

Though Ajay Mathur was appointed as director-general soon after the allegations, in December 2015, there has been little clarity in the role Pachauri would play in the organisation. One of the pre-conditions, as reported by Hindustan Times was that Ajay Mathur did not want any interference from Pachauri in day-to-day operations since his contract had no termination clause. Mathur raised concerns over Pachauri's 'powers' many times.

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