What’s wrong in RK Pachauri’s appointment as the TERI super boss?

R.K. Pachauri

R.K. Pachauri

Rajendra K Pachauri, the former Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), has recently been appointed as the chairman of the organization. However, the appointment has been met with criticism and is a matter of speculation. RK Pachauri has been caught in allegations of sexual assault and even had to resign from the post of Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; however, he was involved in the functioning of TERI.

Why is his election to the new post a matter of speculation?

RK Pachauri continued to head TERI despite the fact that he was accused in a case of sexual harassment. But on Monday, Pachauri was given a shot in the arm when he was promoted as the vice-chairman of the organization. What makes the matter worth speculation is that the post has been specially created for him to enable him to retain control over the organization. In fact, it has been learnt that Pachauri himself asked the governing council to make him the vice-chairman with executive powers over administration, human resource and finance. Ajay Mathur, former director-general of Bureau of Energy Efficiency, has taken charge as the DG of TERI. According to reports, on Monday, the employees of the organization received an email informing about the joining of Mathur as DG. The mail went on to say that TERI’s Governing Council had appointed RK Pachauri as executive vice-chairman with immediate effect. In his new role, Pachauri would give guidance on specific tasks of the organization’s expansion in India as well as abroad.

Charges against RK Pachauri

RK Pachauri has been implicated in charges of sexual harassment. On 20 February 2015, a female researcher had filed an FIR against Pachauri on grounds of sexual harassment and misconduct. The 29-year-old researcher, who worked directly under Pachauri, had on 9 February 2015 also filed a complaint against Teri’s Internal Complaints Committee. The woman had complained that Pachauri repeatedly harassed her during her two years of work at the organization. She had to deal with unwanted sexual advances both physically and through e-mails and SMSes. In the month the sexual charges were files, Pachauri resigned from his position in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He also stepped down from the Prime Minister’s panel on climate change.

Permission to fly abroad

Pachauri is currently on bail. The court that is hearing the sexual harassment case filed against him has allowed his application to fly abroad. Last year in the month of October, he was allowed by the court to travel to Somalia and Kuwait to attend conferences. He was granted permission by the court in January 2016 to fly to the UK and Finland. He has also visited the US and Guyana. His permission to travel to Finland and London was granted on the grounds that he had cooperated in the probe and made himself available for the investigation when required by the police.

The victim’s reaction

The victim is disappointed by the news of him taking over as the chairman of the organization. Calling his appointment a promotion, the woman said that she was expecting something on these lines, but now that it is coming in officially, it gave her a sick feeling. She said that pending the ICC inquiry, Pachauri should have been suspended, however he clung on. The victim had resigned from TERI in November 2015, citing more harassment.