Expressing grave concern over the elevation of RK Pachauri, facing sexual harassment charge, TERI alumni on Thursday said it will “jeopardise” the institute’s reputation and noted lawyer Indira Jaising questioned the government’s “silence”, wondering why it had not removed him despite having the power.
On a day when Pachauri proceeded on leave over outrage against his appointment as TERI’s Executive Vice Chairman, the alumni also questioned the “rationale” of the university’s board of management to retain him in any capacity whatsoever.
Jaising said “there is a substantial amount of funding coming from the government to TERI society. In their capacity as fund providers, they (government) have the right to ask questions to the board as to why no disciplinary action was taken against him (Pachauri)”.
“When it comes to the university, it is a deemed one. That status is given by the HRD ministry. The minister there has a question to answer and that question is that any person who is the founding trustee cannot be the chancellor of the university.
“They actually have the power to remove him as the chancellor of the university. The question is why are they silent. So, both when it comes to the university or society, they have a major role to play which they have not,” she said. Despite facing sexual harassment charges, Pachauri, the chancellor of the university, was recently elevated to the newly-created post. The move triggered severe criticism from the alumni and women activists across the country. Pachauri proceeded on leave and decided to skip the convocation on March 7 after a group of students shot off a letter to acting VC Rajiv Seth saying they would not accept degrees from the former.
Noting there were legal as well as moral issues involved, Jaising questioned whether a person who is facing sexual harassment charges can be a role model or symbolize academia.“In my opinion, that cannot happen. By virtue of the fact that he is facing sexual harassment charges, he should resign from the position of chancellor. The issue is not whether he comes into contact with students but the moral authority that he exercises. On the legal issue, the root of all problems this survivor has faced is the voluntarism that we see - voluntarily going on leave as executive director.
“The issue is why did the board not take disciplinary action against him? He was given full ten days to approach the court. What was the board doing in that period? No court has prevented the management of TERI to take disciplinary action against him or simply suspending him. There is a lack of will to take any form of disciplinary action against him,” she said.