Delhi Tribunal rejects RK Pachauri appeal in sexual harassment case.

Delhi Tribunal rejects RK Pachauri appeal in sexual harassment case

An Industrial tribunal recently confirmed a finding of an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) that RK Pachauri, the former chief of the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) was guilty of sexually harassing a female employee. [Dr. RK Pachauri (deceased) v UOI & Ors]

An appeal was filed by the legal representatives of Pachauri against the 2015 findings of the ICC and was dismissed by the Presiding Officer of the Industrial Tribunal at Rouse Avenue, Ajay Goel.

The tribunal referred to texts and email conversations on record to conclude that the same showed physical and mental exploitation of the complainant by Pachauri.

Despite the complainant expressing her discomfort and disinterest, Pachauri continued to send her messages, the tribunal opined.

“The clear picture which emerges is that a man ‘man’ should know the difference between explicit consensus by a woman and her explicit ‘no’ or her implied consent. In the present matter, the whole conversation and evidence points towards nothing but the fact that the appellant (Pachauri) was thrusting on the complainant which was not at all appreciated by the complainant,” the tribunal noted.

Commenting on the broader issue of sexual harassment which, the tribunal termed as “a universal problem”, it added.

“It is pertinent to mention here that sexual harassment is the expression of unhealthy human relationships. It is not just the violation of dignity, right to social security and right to equality guaranteed to human beings in every social system but it is also a violation of the right to life and peaceful existence guaranteed by law”

In this case, the tribunal found that the ICC had followed all the principles of natural justice and served as a neutral body to conduct the proceedings in a fair manner. As such, there was little scope to interfere with the ICC’s findings, the tribunal said.

“It has to be kept in mind that the interference of the courts should be limited to ensuring that there are no procedural irregularities or violations of principles of natural justice and once the ICC has adequately and appropriately addressed a complaint of sexual harassment, it is not open to the courts to look into the merits of the matter,” the tribunal observed.

The appeal before the tribunal had contended that the findings of the ICC violated natural justice principles. The appellants asserted that the inquiry was conducted in a predetermined and rushed manner.

It was also alleged that the complaint was filed after Pachauri refused to assign the complainant work since she was not able to give her 100 percent. The tribunal, however, was not convinced of these allegations.

Rather, the tribunal found that Pachauri had physically and emotionally blackmailed the complainant.

It considered the minutes of the ICC proceedings and observed that Pachauri’s answers showed that he admitted to most of the conversations referred to by the complainant.

SMSes and emails exchanged between Pachauri and the complainant also indicated that there were repeated attempts to foster personal relationships and misuse his position, in violation of the policy to prevent sexual harassment.

“The words used by the appellant clearly show the sexual harassment of the complainant which was not to the liking of the complainant. The appellant was in a very good position and should have been extra vigilant in his conduct. He should have been setting an example in the institution but to the contrary, he had rather violated the dignity of the woman by committing sexual harassment which cannot be ignored by the court and cannot be endorsed,” the tribunal said.

Hence, it dismissed the appeal and upheld the ICC’s findings.

Source: Bar and Bench.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *