Pachauri to continue to hold post of executive vice chairman at TERI governing council; former finance secretary Ashok Chawla named chairman
New Delhi: R.K. Pachauri, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment from a young female researcher, on Friday went on leave from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) but will continue to hold all posts, including that of the executive vice chairman in TERI’s governing council.
The institute’s governing council, which appointed Pachauri to the post of executive vice chairman on Monday, had drawn huge criticism from all quarters for its decision.
Subsequently, the council met again Friday afternoon wherein it appointed former finance secretary and Competition Commission of India chairperson Ashok Chawla as the new chairman of the governing council.
Chawla replaces professor B.V. Sreekantan, who resigned as the council’s chairman after being its member for over 40 years.
Ajay Mathur, former director general of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), who took over as director general of TERI on Monday was also inducted in council as a member.
Activists, however, said the decisions taken by governing council Friday “are hogwash and only cosmetic aimed at escaping criticism of not taking strong action" against Pachauri.
“Dr R.K. Pachauri, who had been at the head of the institute since 1982 will be on leave from TERI, TERI Governing Council, and TERI University till this is reviewed by the governing council given the sub-judice nature of the matter," said an official statement from TERI, while adding that the governing council met to discuss key issues relating to the functioning of the organization.
TERI has been in the news for all the bad reasons since February last year when a 29-year-old female researcher accused Pachauri of sexually harassing her following which Pachauri went on leave but he returned to TERI in July last year.
The statement, however, nowhere mentions anything about the sexual harassment case and it effectively means that Pachauri would continue to hold the posts.
The action against Pachauri by TERI is in contrast with his fate at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Pachauri was IPCC’s chairman for 13 years that was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2007, along with former US vice-president Al Gore.
But he resigned from the post in February 2015 in the wake of the sexual harassment case.
Recently, around 20 alumni of TERI University had refused to take degrees from Pachauri.
Though Mathur was appointed TERI’s new DG in July itself, he had not joined till Monday earlier this week.
“The process for replacement of Pachauri as director general of TERI culminated in the appointment of Ajay Mathur as director general with full executive powers on 23 July, 2015. However, as Dr Mathur was able to join only on 8 February, 2016 after he was finally relieved by the government of India, the governing council effected various interim arrangements so as not to destabilize the operations of the Institute," said the statement, while adding that Mathur will operate with full executive powers.
While defending its position, the statement highlighted that TERI has a staff strength of 1,200 people and of that over 33% are women.
“At the highest echelons of the institute, 14 of the 30 directors are women. The governing council of TERI supports the rights of women and has consistently ensured the provision of a secure environment and a safe work place for its employees," it added.
But women with executive powers in TERI are few. Of the 10 members in the governing council, only three are women and among those, Leena Srivastava, is on a sabbatical. Similarly, among the 24 member committee of directors, only seven are women.
“Clearly, the uproar that followed the appointment of Pachauri has exerted pressure on TERI. The governing council’s announcement today which says Pachauri would be on leave is appalling because he would continue to hold the post which was exclusively created for him. The governing council seems to be doing everything to protect Pachauri," said Devangana Kalita, who is an activist with Pinjra Tod, a campaign which works on equal rights for women in hostels.
On Thursday, the Delhi high court had reserved its order on a plea seeking cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to former Pachauri in the sexual harassment case.
Delhi Police had also told the court that it would be filing a chargesheet in the case in the next two weeks.
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