Members of environment think tank TERI’s governing council on Monday refused to comment on the sexual harassment allegations against the institute’s former head, climate scientist RK Pachauri, even as they appointed an ombudsman to look into employees’ concerns.
The development came on a day reports emerged that Delhi Police have prepared a charge sheet that accuses 75-year-old Pachauri of outraging the modesty of a woman, criminal intimidation, sexual harassment and stalking based on a former colleague’s complaint that he pestered her with inappropriate texts and emails.
While the institute picked energy sector specialist Veena Joshi as arbiter and director general Ajay Mathur tried to assuage employees’ worries, governing council members contacted by HT said they didn’t wish to speak on the issue and get dragged into the “mess”.
The TERI board appointed Pachauri as executive vice-chairman last week, leading to protests by its students and women’s rights groups.
However, after another woman made similar allegations against the scientist, the governing body asked him to go on an indefinite leave.
A board member, who wished to remain anonymous, blamed Delhi Police, saying they were late in filing a case against Pachauri and did not provide TERI any feedback on the investigation.
“The board had taken a view that police should investigate the matter and take the case forward. Police delayed the lodging of the FIR by over a year and complied after facing pressure from NGOs and media,” he said.
Police had lodged an FIR based on the statement of the first complainant last year, but said there was delay in submitting the charge sheet in court as TERI was not cooperating.
The institute had not provided them access to Pachauri’s computer and mobile phone through which emails and SMSes were allegedly sent to the complainant, officials said. New TERI chief Ajay Mathur has now assured police of all cooperation in the investigation.