TERI kicks Pachauri out of governing council, organisation; scientist to pursue 'global interests'

The governing council of The Energy and Resources Institute(TERI) in a meeting on Monday decided to terminate its association of 25 years with its Director-General RK Pachauri with immediate effect.

FP Staff April 22, 2016 11:00:51 IST
TERI kicks Pachauri out of governing council, organisation; scientist to pursue 'global interests'

The governing council of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in a meeting on Monday decided to terminate three-decade long association with its Director-General RK Pachauri, who has been embroiled in three cases of sexual harassment, with immediate effect.

It was also decided, during the meeting, that the 75-year-old's membership for the council will not be renewed. Pachauri's membership ended on 31 March this year.

The Council, in the meeting, decided to pay all the dues for the remainder of the tenure and bring an immediate end to it.

"His contract with the organisation was to end next July but the Council has decided to end it and honour it by paying the remainder of the tenure to him," said a Governing Council member requesting anonymity on speaking to The Economic Times.

TERI kicks Pachauri out of governing council organisation scientist to pursue global interests

RK Pachauri. Getty Images

Because of non-renewal of his membership, Pachauri will not be Executive Vice-Chairman of the organization, which he was appointed as on 8 February 2016.

TERI's spokesperson in an email told The Hindu that “...Dr. Pachauri’s term as a Member of the Governing Council of TERI ended on 31 March, 2016. As the post of Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) is co-terminus with this membership, his role as EVC also ended along with his membership of the Council.”

Pachauri, however, maintained that his term as a member of The Energy and Resources Institute's (TERI) Governing Council ended on 31 March, 2016 and he felt it was time "for me to move away and get engaged in other interests which I have harboured over the past few years for activities at the global level".

In a statement, Pachauri said he was issuing it "to provide the media with information" about his "stepping down" from TERI's Governing Council, suggesting the decision to call time on his association with the organisation was voluntary.

In his statement, Pachauri said the TERI staff was its "greatest treasure" which under the new Director General will take the Institute to much greater heights in the years ahead.

"I have had the good fortune of leading TERI for three decades and a half and have received the priceless
contribution from thousands of colleagues over the years in building up this Institute to level of an outstanding organisation.

Pachauri said he had "greatly" benefited from the support the green body had "always" provided.

"I have also benefited greatly from the support I have always received from TERI's Governing Council, and would like to place on record my gratitude to them, beginning with the late Darbari Seth, my inspiration and leader in the initial years of TERI's development," he said.

Pachauri, who headed TERI, stepped down as chairperson of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in February 2015.

He began his career at TERI in 1986 and rose to the position of dean, Energy and Environment Engineering, from 1995 to 2000.

Initial complaint against Pachauri

In 2015, a 29-year -old former research analyst of TERI lodged the complaint against Pachauri for sexual harrasment.

The victim in her statement before a magistrate said that she repeatedly told Pachauri that she had no feelings for him, but Pachauri kept sharing the poems, expressing his feelings using words like "love sequestered".

On 1 March 2016, the charge sheet was filed with the Delhi police saying that there was sufficient evidence against the TERI executive.

It also said that the probe in the case was complete and the accused may be called through notice and put on trial for his "criminal act".

Delhi Police in its chargesheet said that Pachauri had remained "engaged in sexually-laden conversations" with the victim citing various telephone calls, e-mails, and WhatsApp messages exchanged between the two. This happened despite several messages by the victim that she could not reciprocate his feeling.

In the chargesheet, it was mentioned that Pachauri had written six poems where he attributed the victim as a "classical Indian beauty".

The victim had exchanged several messages with him acknowledging what he was writing, but always cautioning him not to assume that she too reciprocated his feelings.

In November, the woman researcher who accused him of sexual harassment quit her job at TERI, alleging that she was treated badly.

How the case progressed

Days after RK Pachauri was appointed the executive vice chairman of The Energy and Resources Institute, another former TERI worker came forward with the allegation that the former TERI director general sexually harassed her while she was working at the institute.

"Mr RK Pachauri would use the excuse of work assignments to repeatedly call me to his office room, even though there was no real work that he needed to discuss. This made me feel very uncomfortable and I used to try to dodge some meetings or ask my colleagues to go for the meetings," the compliant read.

The complainant, the second to make this allegation, joined TERI in 2003 and worked for a year.

On 31 March, a third woman was levelled sexual harassment allegations against TERI executive RK Pachauri through an open letter on Thursday.

The letter was accessed from her lawyers Vrinda Grover and Ratna Appender who told IANS that the (third) woman approached lawyers with her complaint in February 2015.

"He would call me during non-working hours and holidays to ask me to come to his office and when arriving it became evident that he had no specific task for me. Pachauri would indulge in frivolous talk and try to get close to me," she said.

The complainant also alleged of his various advances towards her such as asking her "to join him at his summer house outside of the city for the weekend."

TERI's statement in February 

On 12 February, TERI issued a statement to announce that Pachauri will be on leave from TERI, its governing council and university till the case was reviewed by the council.

Ashok Chawla, former Competition Commission of India chief was nominated to take over Pachauri's post.

The statement also said, "The governing council of TERI supports the rights of women and has consistently ensured the provision of a secure environment and a safe workplace for its employees," the statement said.

The first complainant who accused TERI executive vice chairman RK Pachauri of sexual harassment took offence to the organisation's statement, saying that it did not address the harassment case.

"It is really sad they speak through press releases after such a massive public outrage. The release does not make my allegations or the case the focus, but is discussing TERI operations," the complainant had told IANS.

with inputs from Agencies 

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