R K Pachauri, who is battling charges of sexual harassment, is back at the helm of the The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) after getting relief from a court on Friday, and his return is not entirely being welcomed within the organisation.
About 50 employees of TERI had planned a strike on Tuesday to protest against Pachauri’s return as director general although he was still to be discharged from the court in the sexual harassment case. Three TERI employees told The Indian Express that there was a sense of discomfort within the organisation, and they now wanted to petition the TERI governing council. None of them wanted to be identified.
“We wanted to go on strike today but then we decided to take a chance with the governing council. We will write to the governing council conveying our sense of disappointment. He has not been discharged by the court. He cannot be functioning as if nothing ever happened. We find it increasingly difficult to defend the organisation outside,” one of them said.
The governing council has 10 members, including Pachauri, HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, Naina Lal Kidwai of HSBC and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon.
The alleged victim, “anguished” at Pachauri’s return, said she does not have much confidence in the governing council as well. “The governing council has some of the biggest names of corporate India. But it did not take a strong stand against Pachauri. It has failed us, and failed corporate India,” she told The Indian Express.
On Friday, a Delhi court, which is hearing the sexual harassment complaint against Pachauri, allowed him to enter the offices of TERI except its headquarters, where the office of the director general is located, and the one in Gurgaon, where the victim is now posted. That same evening, Pachauri visited the Defence Colony office of the organisation and met many of the senior functionaries.
One of those present there described it a “get-together” of the senior officials but it was at that meeting that it was apparently decided to immediately relieve Leena Srivastava of the charge of acting director general and let Pachauri come back with full control. Srivastava, the only TERI employee in the governing board apart from Pachauri, was given the responsibility of running the organisation after Pachauri went on leave on February 24. He had never resigned from his position.
On Monday, Pachauri came to the Defence Colony office and sent a mail to all employees announcing his return and the appointment of Srivastava as a ‘Distinguished Fellow’. He attended office on Tuesday as well. He did not respond to calls from The Indian Express.
One employee said Pachauri’s mail came as a “shock” and “surprise”, though everyone knew that he was going to be back eventually.