NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An Indian court on Thursday ordered Rajendra Pachauri, a leading global voice on climate change, to stay away from his Delhi thinktank after a female employee accused him of sexual harassment.
Pachauri, 74, quit as chair of the United Nations panel of climate scientists on Tuesday, ending 13 turbulent years in charge of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group, after the employee, a 29-year-old researcher, made the accusation.
Pachauri, who had been chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 2002, denies the allegation.
The Indian scientist remains director general of the non-profit thinktank The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), which was set up in 1974 and where he oversees about 1,200 staff.
Indian police are investigating the complaint by the researcher, who has accused Pachauri of harassing her since 2013 via email, Whatsapp and text messaging. Her lawyers say Pachauri persisted despite her requests that he stop.
Some Indian lawyers and women’s rights groups have demanded Pachauri’s resignation from TERI, saying the thinktank had a responsibility to provide an atmosphere free from sexual harassment and discrimination against women.
“[His resignation] will send a message ... about the well being and status of women in society and that as a nation we do not tolerate the violation of the dignity and autonomy of women,” activists said in a letter to TERI’s governing council.
TERI said Pachauri had gone on leave.
His lawyers have said his computer and mobile phone were hacked and that vested interests were maligning him because of his outspoken stand on global warming.
A Delhi court on Thursday granted Pachauri protection from arrest until March 27 after his lawyers reported that he had been admitted to hospital with a long-standing heart condition.
“The court has granted Dr Pachauri interim protection from arrest until March 27,” said Ashish Bhan, Pachauri’s lawyer. “He has had a heart condition since 2010 and doctors advise that he has to undergo certain procedures.”
Bhan said conditions imposed by the court, banning Pachauri from going to the office of his thinktank, were normal and routine.
Reporting by Nita Bhalla. Additional reporting by Suchitra Mohanty.; Editing by Tim Pearce