TERI chief R K Pachauri, who received the Nobel in 2007 on behalf of an international panel on climate change, has been named in an FIR lodged in New Delhi by a woman colleague who has accused him of sexual harassment.
While the FIR was lodged on Wednesday, Pachauri received interim relief against arrest on Thursday from the Delhi High Court enabling him to approach a lower court for anticipatory bail by February 23.
Pachauri had approached the court for interim protection till March 23 after he was summoned by police for questioning with regard to the allegations.
In his plea, heard by Justice S P Garg, Pachauri claimed that he had “come to know” about the FIR from news reports, and that he had received a notice from police to produce his laptop, telephone and other documents.
In the FIR, the complainant, who works at the D-G’s office in TERI, claimed that Pachauri had sexually harassed her for nearly two years since she joined the organisation in September 2013. She also alleged that Pachauri had engaged in “sexually laden conversations” with her over email and SMS.
The FIR was based on a complaint filed by the woman at the Lodhi Colony police station on February 13, and included charges under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354 D (stalking) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.
According to police sources, hours after the registration of the FIR, the woman submitted a written request to police, asking them to confiscate Pachauri’s “mobile phone, laptop and other computers”.
The sources added that the complainant also informed police that Pachauri had tried contacting her on Tuesday morning four times through phone calls and SMS.
Police sources said they had sent a team of officers to Pachauri’s TERI office at the India Habitat Centre and questioned some of the staff there.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, before the court hearing, a spokesperson for Pachauri said: “Given the fact that the said matter is currently subjudice and the Hon’ble High Court is seized of the matter, it will not be prudent or appropriate to comment anything on the matter pending adjudication before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court.”
With Pachauri approaching the court late on Thursday, police and prosecution appeared to have been caught by surprise. During the brief hearing, the Assistant Public Prosecutor claimed that he did not know the details of the case, and the police’s investigating officer was not present.
Meanwhile, the bench of Justice Jayant Nath vacated a stay on the publication of news reports on the allegations against Pachauri. The court said that the “liberty of the press under Article 19 (1) (a) of the constitution could not be violated, allowing the media to report on the case.” The court will now hear the plea in April.