A Delhi court Friday ordered framing of charges against former TERI chief R K Pachauri in an alleged sexual harassment case lodged against him by a former colleague.
Metropolitan Magistrate Charu Gupta ordered framing of charges against Pachauri under Indian Penal Code sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).
Pachauri, who was chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when it shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007, was cleared of four other charges pressed by Delhi Police — he had also been booked under IPC sections 354B (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 354D (stalking), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 506 (criminal intimidation). In fact , the criminal intimidation charge had been dropped earlier.
On February 13, 2015, police registered an FIR after a former TERI employee lodged a complaint against Pachauri, accusing him of sexual harassment, molestation among other offences. On March 1, 2016, police filed a chargesheet against him, saying there was “sufficient evidence” that he had sexually harassed, stalked and threatened the complainant.
After registration of the FIR, two more women levelled allegations against him. Thereafter, a civil suit was filed by Pachauri against media houses, seeking restraint on reporting the issue. TV news channels had interviewed the two women who had levelled allegations against Pachauri. He sought a permanent injunction against any reporting on statements made by the women.
In February 2017, Additional District Judge (ADJ) Jitendra Mishra passed an interim order on this civil suit that the media publish a “subtitle” in “bold letters” while reporting the matter, similar to the display that TV channels provide to breaking news, so that the public is aware that no crime or offence against Pachauri has been proved. But a year later, ADJ Sumit Dass overturned ADJ Mishra’s interim order, saying it was “uncalled for” and, therefore, stood “vacated”.
“Such restraint, as sought, not only amounts to enforcing a gag order upon the media but at the same time prevents the right of public to be kept updated about the developments — their right to know is infracted or trampled upon,” ADJ Dass said.
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