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RK Pachauri promotion makes my flesh crawl: Sexual harassment complainant

New Delhi: The woman who had accused environmentalist R K Pachauri of sexual harassment, today tore into TERI, saying the “shameful” decision of appointing him as executive vice-chairman of the green body made her “flesh crawl”, and resolved to take the case to a logical conclusion.

In an open letter, the former employee at (The Energy and Resources Institute) TERI, the 29-year-old girl said the decision by TERI’s Governing Council was “disgusting” as it appointed Pachauri with operational powers to run the body despite “grave criminal charges” pending against him.

However, Pachauri’s lawyer Ashish Dixit said there was nothing wrong in the appointment and the complainant was trying to keep the controversy “alive” and delay the court proceedings.

“Shamelessness abounds! The news of promotion of a man who stands booked on charges of sexual harassment at workplace, stalking and criminal intimidation by country’s who’s who makes my flesh crawl,” the complainant said.

On Monday, Pachauri was appointed executive vice-chairman of TERI, a post created for him, though judicial proceedings were pending against him for alleged sexual harassment. Pachauri is currently out on bail.

Among the members of TERI’s governing council are HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh, former Chairperson of HSBC Naina Lal Kidwai and Chairman DSP BlackRock Investment Hemendra Kothari, Shailesh Nayak, Secretary in Ministry of Earth Sciences, and Leena Srivastava, Distinguished Fellow at TERI.

TERI said, Pachauri had assumed the duties as Director General after permission of the court in July last year and that he was made executive vice chairman of TERI, following rules in “letter and spirit”. Pachauri was functioning as Director General before his appointment as executive vice chairman.

Alleging that there were many attempts to force her to go for an out of court settlement, she said in the letter that she will take the case to the logical conclusion.

The complainant said she had heard that Pachauri was trying to get a foothold in TERI but she did not believe.

“It was around 3 Oct, 2015 that I first heard of this from some current and former colleagues. I was sceptical in thinking that the organisation would not pour cheap, third rated oil to the existing smouldering fire. I was so wrong,” she said.

The woman said she had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 3 August last year demanding the sacking of Pachauri from the post of TERI Director General.

“I have been running from pillar to post. I didn’t know what else to do. So I wrote to Prime Minister but I have not heard anything from his office on that yet,” she said.

Pachauri’s controversial appointment has also invited angry comments on social media.

“It is time for Naina Lal Kidwai to speak out on Pachauri and TERI now or remain forever silent on issues relating to women and work,” Chitra Subramanium said on twitter.

Another tweet by Karuna Nundy said, “Well, this is just shameless.”

“Far from making Pachauri an example of how intolerant we should be of sexual harassment the TERI board has reinstated him. What a shame,” Sachin Kalbag tweeted.

Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association, said this has spread a message that there is no justice for women in sexual harassment cases at workplace.

“It has spread a message that justice in sexual harassment cases at workplace and safe environment for women is just not there,” she said.