The new complainant said she too was subjected to sexual harassment by R.K. Pachauri when she worked there for over a year in 2003
New Delhi: One day after the announcement of the appointment of Rajendra K. Pachauri to the newly created post of executive vice-chairman of Teri (The Energy and Resources Institute), another woman has come forward with complaints of sexual harassment by the former director general of the organization.
In a written statement issued through her lawyers Vrinda Grover and Ratna Appnender, the new complainant said she too was subjected to sexual harassment by Pachauri when she worked there for over a year in 2003.
In February last year, she said, when she read news reports of another woman researcher filing a police complaint against Pachauri, she was not surprised since “I had been sexually harassed by him and had seen him behave extremely indecently with other women at Teri too."
Soon after the first woman researcher lodged a First Information Report with the police in February last year, this woman too, she says, complained to the police and sent a letter to the police commissioner in April. But, she says, she never heard back from the police.
The new complainant, who cannot by law be named, has “decided to break her silence and speak out," said Grover in an email. “She now feels it is time to break her silence and place the complete facts before the public given the fact that R.K. Pachauri is being rewarded by the Teri board rather than being held accountable."
In her five-page statement reviewed by Mint, the unnamed woman alleges that Pachauri would call her to his office even when there was no real work, that he bestowed her with a sexually suggestive nickname, that he would make unwelcome sexually loaded remarks, call her at home with requests to join him for dinner or drinks and make attempts to come close to her, hold her hand and even kiss her.
Despite the fact that the Vishakha guidelines on sexual harassment at the workplace laid down by the Supreme Court were in place at the time, the complainant says: “The issue of sexual harassment at the workplace was not discussed at Teri and employees and staff had never been informed about what they could do in case they faced sexual harassment at Teri."
When she finally resigned, she says, Pachauri threatened her saying he had “friends everywhere and that he would see how I would leave his employment."
Pachauri’s behaviour at Teri was a “recurring phenomenon" says another former employee who worked in the organization from 2010-13. The woman employee who does not wish to be named says that while she herself was not subject to sexual harassment, she knows of women who were. “When they complained to others in the senior management, they would be told that they were misunderstanding his warmth," she says.
“He has crazy clout not just at Teri but in the sector so everyone is scared of speaking up," she says.
In May last year an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) comprising three internal Teri employees including the then acting director general Ranjana Saikia and an external member is reported to have found Pachauri guilty and recommended disciplinary action against him. Pachauri obtained an ex-parte stay from the Industrial Disputes Tribunal claiming that he had been denied the principles of natural justice.
In July, the Teri governing council comprising such stalwarts of corporate India as HSBC’s Naina Lal Kidwai and HDFC’s Deepak Parekh announced that Pachauri was being replaced as part of a ‘leadership succession plan’ that had begun way back in September 2014. It said he would be replaced by Ajay Mathur, director-general Bureau of Energy Efficiency – a move that was widely criticized for being too generous to a man allegedly indicted by his own ICC for sexual harassment.
In November, the woman researcher quit Teri but has vowed to take her fight for justice to its ‘logical conclusion’.
On Thursday, the Delhi High Court is scheduled to hear her application for the cancellation of Pachauri’s anticipatory bail.
Calling the emergence of the second complaint an “attempt to prejudice hearing in the High Court," Pachauri’s lawyer Ashish Dixit said that when the court was hearing the matter for allowing Pachauri to return to Teri, one anonymous woman had surfaced claiming to have been harassed. “There was no word after that; now again, hours before the High Court hearing tomorrow, this anonymous lady has resurfaced which inspires no confidence in the statement."