TERI Cuts its Losses, Sends Pachauri on Leave

RK Pachauri. Credit: Kris Krug/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

RK Pachauri. Credit: Kris Krug/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In a statement that reflects TERI’s attempts to limit the damage caused by its recent appointment of RK Pachauri as vice chairman, the governing council of The Energy and Resources Institute has announced that it’s controversial former director general will be going “on leave” from the organization.

Pachauri is facing criminal charges of sexual harassment based on the complaint of a former employee. This week, a second woman came forward to say she too had been sexually harassed while working with him at TERI.

Pachauri, “who had been at the head of the institute since 1982 will be on leave from TERI, the TERI Governing Council, and TERI University till this is reviewed by the Governing Council given the sub judice nature of the matter,” a press note issued by TERI stated without spelling out the nature of the “matter” that was sub judice.

The council has also so far offered no explanation for its decision to appoint Pachauri as vice chairman with full executive powers barely a week ago despite this “matter” being “sub judice”. TERI was widely criticised for the move, which was seen as an attempt to strengthen the position of a man facing charges of sexual harassment of female colleagues, who were his subordinates.

In Friday’s press statement, the TERI governing council said Ajay Mathur would be DG in place of Pachauri with full executive powers. Mathur was appointed in July last year but was able to join only on February 8, 2016 after being relieved by the government. “In the interregnum, the governing council effected various interim arrangements so as not to destabilise the operations of the institute,” the statement said.

Mindful of the negative public perception that its endorsement of Pachauri generated, the TERI statement stresses that the organisation’s staff strength of 1200 is comprised of 33% women. Of the 30 directors it has, 14 are women.

“The governing council of TERI supports the rights of women and has consistently ensured the provision of a secure environment and workplace,” the statement said. If put to vote within the organisation, it is not clear how many takers this claim would have.