Dr RK Pachauri, the tainted director-general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has been reinstated as vice chairman, a post specially created for him. This position also gives him executive powers in the organisation. Women lawyers and activists, furious at TERI’s decision to reinstate Pachauri, voiced their anger and fear at what TERI has done for women and civil society.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson, Biocon and member, governing council of TERI who resigned citing 'moral responsibility' over Pachauri's case, when contacted about his reinstatement said, "I do not wish to comment."
Indira Jaising, former additional solicitor-general of India: "The big issue is that TERI has no service rules. There are no rules governing the chairman and executive director. TERI is funded by the government and they should at least withdraw funds to the organisation. Pachauri is also the chancellor of TERI University. What kind of message does this give to society?
"He will be able to influence the witnesses to the case now that he is back at TERI. Many women who were victims and conducted the enquiry on the case have all quit TERI. Women at TERI are terrified of him. Taking him back at TERI is a big step back for civil society. TERI has captains of the corporate world on its board like Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon, former banker Naina Lal Kidwai and Deepak Parekh. What message are they sending to women working in organisations headed by them? Shaw has said she is resigning from TERI, but I haven’t seen any letter of resignation. This action of TERI has the potential to undermine the law."
Abha Singh, activist lawyer: "This is very sad. This action by TERI shows the apathy of the system towards women victims. The case is still going on but people in high places get back to their jobs. Shouldn’t the system exhibit that no matter how high a position an individual occupies, if there is even a slight scar to his reputation, it should be taken seriously?
"If you let the high and mighty get away with serious issues like sexual molestation, what message are you conveying to society? Will women who have suffered sexual molestation have the courage to come out after this reaction? The demonstrative effect that is being conveyed is that nothing will happen to people in power. The victim — whom the media and the rest lauded as 'brave' and 'bold' — has now become a 'poor' victim. She is in oblivion. It is unfortunate that in spite of having strong laws in our country, we are unable to help women who have been molested and sexually harassed."
Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar, ex-member, National Commission for Women and activist: "Who took the decision to appoint Pachauri back at TERI? He may be an expert in his subject but that should not mean that when his morality is under question, he can be taken back in positions of power.
"What will women who work at TERI go through now? Couldn’t TERI wait till the charges against Pachauri were cleared, to take him back? If people in top positions can flout rules, what should we expect from the common man?"
Shaina NC, national spokesperson, BJP: "We cannot pronounce someone guilty unless proven. But as a woman, I strongly feel that anyone who is embroiled in cases of sexual controversies should not be taken back in office. In this particular case, he has a lot to answer.
"However, I believe the legal system will deliver justice in due time."