NEW DELHI -- The Delhi high court has sought a response from the government, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and its director general RK Pachauri on a woman's complaint that her allegations of sexual harassment against Pachauri have not taken seriously by the climate change think tank. The 29-year-old researcher had filed a police case against her boss, Pachauri, alleging that he had repeatedly sexually harassed her at work since September 2013.
"File your necessary counter affidavits within three weeks. Rejoinder in one week thereafter. This is not a matter we can dismiss just like that. The issue requires consideration," a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said.
All three responses have to be filed by November 16. The woman had approached high court after no action was taken against Pachauri even though an internal complaints committee at the organisation had found him guilty in May this year. Now this ICC has been dissolved and a new one constituted in its place, interestingly by Pachauri himself.
The woman in her petition has challenged the stay order as well as the jurisdiction of the industrial tribunal to deal with appeals against the ICC report or non-implementation of its recommendations.
Earlier, the woman's counsel had alleged in court that TERI and its governing council had "primarily failed to treat it as a misconduct or suspend him (Pachauri)" as recommended by ICC in its report.
The counsel had also claimed that TERI was treating the ICC report "like a backroom inquiry" and sought its service rules saying there was a "lack of transparency" on how the organisation, funded by the government, worked.
The labour tribunal had stayed the operation of the report of the former ICC on Pachauri's argument that principles of natural justice has been violated in the investigation. At a recent hearing at the labour tribunal that had ordered the stay, TERI representatives told court that their internal committee had followed all laws while conducting the investigation, denying Pachauri's allegations. A final hearing on this case is expected to take place next month. The 29-year-old complainant has also filed a petition questioning this tribunal's jurisdiction in the issue.
TERI's governing council has announced Pachauri's replacement with a new director general in an announcement in July. The new DG, Dr Ajay Mathur, told HuffPost India that he is yet to be relieved from his current role as Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) at the Government of India, and that he is likely to assume his new role in November at the earliest. TERI governing council has claimed they started looking for suitable candidates for the position in September last year and is unrelated to the sexual harassment complaint.
The governing council has remained largely mum about the entire issue. It has not so much as made a statement about it. The governing council includes its chairman Prof. B V Sreekantan, an Indian astrophysicist and former associate of Homi J. Bhabha at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Members besides Pachauri are Dr (Mrs) Wakako Hironaka, Deepak S Parekh (Chairman of Housing Development Finance Corporation), Naina Lal Kidwai (Group General Manager and Country Head of HSBC India), Shailesh Nayak (secretary at Ministry of Earth Sciences), Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Chairman & Managing Director of Biocon Limited), Hemendra Kothari (Chairman of DSP BlackRock Investment Managers Private Limited), Dr Henrik O Madsen (Group President & CEO of DNV GL Group), and Dr Leena Srivastava (who was made acting DG for an interim period after allegations against Pachauri first came to light).
Recently, one of the GC members, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, resigned from the council, saying that she "refused to be dragged in an extremely contentious issue". Her resignation is yet to be accepted by the governing council.
(with PTI inputs)