Delhi(PTI): The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to cancel immediately the anticipatory bail granted by a trial court to TERI Director R K Pachauri in an alleged sexual harassment case lodged by a woman research analyst. Justice S P Garg posted the matter for July 16 after the counsel for Pachauri sought more time to file response to the application move by the 29-year-old woman, who has alleged that "free and fair investigation" cannot be carried out if Pachauri is "allowed to roam around freely".
[ Rajendra Kumar Pachauri was the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He held the post from 2002 until his resignation in 2015, during which time the organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Know more on Wikipedia]
"Let them (Pachauri and Delhi Police) file their responses then we will think over it. There is no point of cancelling the bail application immediately," the court said. It added that "This application (for cancellation of Pachauri's bail) should not come in the way of trial court proceedings."
The judge made the observations after the complainant's counsel, advocate Prashant Mendiratta, informed the court that Pachauri has even filed an application seeking modification of trial court's order that bars him from entering The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) premises.
The court further said, "We will see about this (Pachauri's plea to enter TERI premises) at later stage. Police seeks time to file status report. Let both the parties file status report in four weeks. List the matter for further hearing on July 16," the court said. Senior advocates Dayan Krishnan and Ramesh Gupta opposed the woman's plea, saying that it should not be entertained and the trial court has granted anticipatory bail on merits. The complainant had moved the High Court seeking cancellation of the anticipatory bail granted to Pachauri by the trial court in the case.
The complainant's counsel alleged before the court that Pachauri was "dictating what needs to be said to witnesses" in the case. He claimed there was "overwhelming evidence" against Pachauri that he misused the bail conditions. A criminal case on charges of sexual harassment, stalking and criminal intimidation was registered against Pachauri on February 18 by the police.
The woman's plea states that Pachauri is "abusing his position and hijacking the entire electronic evidence as well as the material witnesses". She has claimed that "grave prejudice would be caused" to her if the anticipatory bail granted to Pachauri was not cancelled. Referring to a March 21 order of a lower court, the complainant has submitted that it had "miserably failed" to appreciate the evidence gathered by the police to demonstrate that Pachauri, in violation of court orders, was in active touch with officials of TERI and influencing witnesses.
In her plea, the woman has also opposed Pachauri's request before a trial court to modify its order that bars him from entering the TERI premises. On March 21, Pachauri was granted anticipatory bail by the trial court which had rejected the request of police for his custody in the case.
The court had granted him anticipatory bail by imposing several conditions including that he would join the probe as and when called, not enter TERI office premises and not intimidate or threaten the complainant and the witnesses of the case.
On February 13, an FIR was registered against Pachauri on charges of sexual harassment under IPC sections 354, 354(a), 354(d) (molestation) and 506 (criminal intimidation). Pachauri, who is facing charges of sexual harassment and is currently on leave from TERI, has requested a modification of an earlier court order and has sought permission to resume work from the office premises. "Pachauri now sought modification of order by which he was granted anticipatory bail. He is an influential man. He should not be allowed to enter TERI premises till the investigation is going on," the woman's counsel contended.
After the sexual harassment complaint, Pachauri had even stepped down as chairperson of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February and proceeded on leave from TERI