Former TERI chief R K Pachauri died aged 79 Thursday, after a prolonged cardiac ailment. A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, Pachauri was rewarded for his work in the fields of science and technology and environmentalism. He was the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when it shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007.
Born on August 20, 1940 in Nainital, Pachauri began his career with the Indian Railways at the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi. He later joined North Carolina State University in Raleigh, United States, where he obtained his PhD along with co-majors in Industrial Engineering and Economics in 1974. His doctoral thesis was on energy demand forecasting.
In 1982, he founded The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), an independent not-for-profit research institute focused on energy, environment and sustainable development.
His legacy as a leading voice in environmentalism was marred by a sexual harassment charge leveled by a junior colleague in 2015. 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 the case came to light, two more women levelled similar allegations against him. Thereafter, a civil suit was filed by Pachauri against media houses, seeking restraint on reporting the issue.
He later had to step down as director general of the organisation, only to take up a specially-created position of executive vice-chairman.
He was subsequently charged 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).
He was cleared of four other charges — IPC sections 354B (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 354D (stalking), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 506 (criminal intimidation).
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