Pachauri gets court’s nod to go abroad to attend global meet

New Delhi: A Delhi court today allowed TERI Director General R K Pachauri, who is facing sexual harassment allegations from a woman employee, to visit China and Japan to attend a global meet to discuss environmental issues. Metropolitan Magistrate Shivani Chauhan, while allowing Pachauri to go abroad from August 21 to September 1, directed him to furnish two local sureties of Rs two lakh each and inform the Indian embassies in both the countries about his arrival.

The court also asked him to provide updates on his travel plans by filing the itinerary and photocopy of tickets and passport before it. “The accused (Pachauri) is permitted to travel to China between August 21 and August 29 and thereafter to Japan till August 30/September 1, subject to furnishing of two local sureties of Rs two lakh each to the satisfaction of this court and upon furnishing an undertaking that he will make himself available to the investigating officer (IO) as per requirement upon service of notice on him.

“The accused shall also file a copy of his travel tickets alongwith photocopies of all pages of his passport, all valid visas and itinerary in court prior to his travel and shall also intimate the court and IO after his return,” it said. Advocate Ashish Dixit, appearing for Pachauri, said his client has been cooperating in the probe and he needed to attend the meetings and deliver a lecture on climate change on August 28 in China.

In its order, the court noted that a sessions court order of March 21 mandates Pachauri to only obtain prior permission before travelling abroad but does not impose absolute prohibition from leaving the country during pendency of probe. Meanwhile, complainant’s counsel Prashant Mendirata opposed Pachauri’s application on the ground that he has been removed from the job and was not capable of representing the country.

Maintaining that he was facing serious charges and must not be allowed to leave the country, Mendirata said Pachauri “wants to travel abroad in his personal capacity and the police still has to question him. Section 354 (molestation) of IPC is a serious offence.”

Countering the complainant’s arguments, Pachauri’s counsel argued that his client was still the DG of TERI and “has not been officially relieved from his obligations qua the organisation”. Dixit submitted documents regarding Pachauri’s travel, including his invitation and itinerary and said his client has been fully cooperating in probe and did not intend to flee.

In his application seeking permission to travel abroad, Pachauri had said that being a world-renowned scientist on global climate change, he was scheduled to deliver lecture on a report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the International Ecosystem Management Partnership in China from August 22-28.

Thereafter, he is scheduled to attend a meeting in Tokyo with Professor Katsuya Kodama, senior founder of U-brain TV. The application further said that Pachauri’s meetings are part of his occupation to “earn livelihood and denial of the same shall violate Article 19(1)(G)(to practice any profession or to carry out any occupation) of the Constitution.” It said Pachauri will abide with the conditions imposed if any by the court.

The court had last month allowed Pachauri to enter his office premises barring the head office here and a branch in Gurgaon. 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).

TERI governing council had on July 23 appointed Dr Ajay Mathur, currently director general of Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), as its Director General.

Mathur will take up his new responsibilities as soon as he is in a position to do so subsequent to being relieved from his current responsibilities by the government after a brief transition period, a TERI statement had said last month. Pachauri had also stepped down from United Nations’ IPCC and the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change.

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