After years of restricting his defence to claims of email hacking, former TERI executive vice chairman RK Pachauri has now alleged that the woman who accused him of sexual harassment was trying to trap him on behalf of unknown people for personal gain.
A Guardian report said Pachauri, in a series of email exchanges with The Observer, claimed that the accuser had access to all five of his email accounts, and was putting together an “archive of messages” during the 16 months she worked as a researcher at TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute).
Pachauri said all the “romantic” poems that were purportedly sent to the woman were saved electronically, and they could have been doctored to appear as if they were meant to woo the woman. The former TERI head further alleged that the correspondence presented as evidence against him went to show that the woman was actively flirting with him in an attempt to “encourage a deeper relationship” between the two.
However, online portal Scroll.in quoted the woman’s lawyer, Prashant Mendiratta, as saying that the emails, SMSes and Whatsapp categorically showed that the truth was very different.
“My client was not flirting with him or making advances on him. At no point did she encourage him or give him any reason to make inappropriate physical contact or demand sexual favours,” he said.
Pachauri said that he suspects strongly, but cannot prove, that there have been coordinated attempts to destroy him “professionally as well as personally”. He was quoted by The Guardian as claiming that climate sceptics and rightwing free-market thinktanks, funded by powerful fossil-fuel interests, were behind these attacks.
Over a year after the Delhi Police registered a case against Pachauri, the probe agency filed a 1,400-page chargesheet accusing him of sexual harassment, stalking and criminal intimidation on March 1. He had gone on leave from TERI the previous month after another former employee levelled similar charges of sexual harassment against him.
Pachauri’s emails to the woman, a science graduate, claimed that he loved her from the depths of his “soul, mind and heart”. He also “threatened” to go on a fast, something he would break only if she believes that he loves her with “sincerity and unfathomable depth”.
In February 2015, the woman gave police a cache of several thousands of electronic messages as evidence of the TERI official’s unbecoming conduct. He was also accused of kissing and touching her inappropriately.