Rajendra Pachauri Removed From TERI In The Backdrop Of Sexual Harassment Complaint

23/07/2015 6:06 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Director General of the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) R.K. Pachauri addresses mediapersons in New Delhi on January 23, 2010. The head of the UN's climate science panel said January 23 that a doomsday prediction about the fate of Himalayan glaciers was 'a regrettable error.' Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in an emailed statement to media outlets that the mistake arose out of 'established procedures not being diligently followed.' AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — Dr. Rajendra K Pachauri was removed as director general of The Energy And Resources Institute by the governing council on Thursday, even as it came under sharp criticism for not suspending him pending enquiry for two months since April, when a 29-year-old researcher working in his office filed a sexual harassment complaint against him.

The organisation's governing council met in Bengaluru today, and decided to appoint Dr. Ajay Mathur, currently Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Government of India, as the new Director General (DG) of TERI.

The statement from the governing council sought to portray the change as one stemming from a succession planning process that has been in motion since September 2014, or to say that it has nothing to do with the sexual harassment charges against the 75-year-old outgoing DG.

According to TERI, a search firm was asked to find eligible candidates in September 2014 for the position.

"Subsequently, a further search was carried out involving all the members of the GC, who interacted individually with several eligible candidates, and evaluated senior staff, currently working at TERI, and those who had extensive experience of working in this organization," said the statement. "The decision to appoint Dr. Ajay Mathur is, therefore, the culmination of an extensive search process and an intensive evaluation of candidates from across the globe."

The statement lauded Pachauri for leading and building TERI over the last 34 years "from a concept to a major, financially autonomous, professionally dynamic organization on the global stage".

Explaining why it had not taken any action against Pachauri yet despite the organization's internal complaints committee finding him guilty, the council said that its hands were tied as a court had stayed any action on the recommendations of the report. HuffPost India had reported yesterday that the GC will make a statement saying this.

Quoting an ex-parte order from May 29 that said “The operation of the report of the Internal Complaints Committee shall remain stayed”, they referred to the same judgment which has stated that the principles of natural justice have not been followed by the internal committee that had carried out the 90-days-long investigation. Interestingly, TERI's own committee has prepared an extensive explanation to counter this allegation.

The GC has so far not said anything about the sexual harassment complaint against Pachauri. It has also refused to respond or acknowledge a letter addressed to it by the staffer.

Here is the full text of the statement from TERI governing council.

The Governing Council (GC) of TERI at its meeting held in Bangalore today took a decision to appoint Dr. Ajay Mathur, currently Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Government of India, as the Director General (DG) of TERI. Dr. Mathur will take up his new responsibilities as soon as he is in a position to do so, subsequent to being relieved from his current responsibilities by the Government of India after a brief period of transition.

The issue of succession to the current leadership of TERI was first discussed in detail by the GC in its meeting held in Mumbai in September, 2014. Subsequently a well-known search firm was entrusted with the task of carrying out a search of candidates for the position, which they performed pro bono, and provided the GC with a slate of candidates short listed by them. Subsequently, a further search was carried out involving all the members of the GC, who interacted individually with several eligible candidates, and evaluated senior staff, currently working at TERI, and those who had extensive experience of working in this organization. The decision to appoint Dr. Ajay Mathur is, therefore, the culmination of an extensive search process and an intensive evaluation of candidates from across the globe.

Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri has led and built TERI over the last 34 years from a concept to a major, financially autonomous, professionally dynamic organization on the global stage. All efforts will be made to aid and assist Dr. Ajay Mathur in a smooth and expeditious transition, as the latter assumes responsibility as TERI’s new chief executive. The GC is certain that the 1200 persons working for TERI in different parts of the world would welcome this development, and extend all their support towards a smooth transition and ensuring that this unique Indian organization with a global presence and universal reach attains greater heights in the future.

Dr. Ajay Mathur holds a Ph D and a Master of Science from the University of Illinois. He completed a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Roorkee. He began his career at TERI in 1986 and rose to the position of Dean, Energy & Environment Engineering during the period 1995 to 2000. Subsequently he worked in leadership positions in the World Bank in Washington DC; as Director, interim Secretariat, Green Climate Fund in Bonn; and in the private sector in India. Subsequently, he took over as DG of BEE, where he has initiated and directed innovative programs, which have not only made a major difference in India, but have earned him the admiration of the global community.

The GC also considered the question of any action that could be taken on the report of the Internal Complaints Committee at TERI on the issue of alleged sexual harassment. Action on this report has been stayed by the Court, which ruled “The operation of the report of the Internal Complaints Committee shall remain stayed.” This judgment of May 29, 2015 also stated “The principles of natural justice have not been followed at all by the said Committee, contrary to Rules.” The GC of TERI respects all court proceedings and abides by its direction.

The interests of TERI and its talented staff are paramount. The members of the GC expressed deep confidence in the dedication of TERI staff, and the leadership of the Institute which has brought this organization to a level of excellence and effectiveness in India and globally. They expressed great optimism in the future of TERI and the promise it holds in its fields of work and wishes Dr Ajay Mathur the very best in his new assignment.

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