Former UN official to stand trial over sexual harassment

Former UN climate chief to be charged over sexual abuse, following lengthy investigation

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

In this file photo, Rajendra K. Pachauri, puts on his glasses as he attends a session at the World Economic Forum WEF in Davos, January 23, 2008.

Indian police are expected to charge renowned climate scientist Rajendra K. Pachauri with crimes related to sexual harassment within the next two weeks after a year-long investigation into the case, a Delhi court heard.

The former chief of a United Nations climate panel was accused last February of sexual harassment by a 29-year-old researcher working at the Delhi-based think-tank The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) where Pachauri was Director General.

Police told the Delhi High Court that their investigation was near completion and they would present a charge sheet within the next 15 days.

"If the court feels the charges are very serious, it is possible that they will reject Pachauri's request for anticipatory bail and then he could be arrested," said Prashant Mendiratta, lawyer for the complainant.

The woman claims Pachauri, 75, began harassing her soon after she joined the non-profit think-tank in September 2013 via email, Whatsapp and text messaging, but Pachauri persisted despite her requests that he stop.

Pachauri - who quit as chair of the Nobel-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) over the allegation - denies the charges and has accused the complainant of using the media to sensationalise the case.

On Wednesday, a second former TERI employee told Indian media she was also sexually harassed by the scientist between 2003 and 2004.

"There has been a pattern to his sexual harassment. Not just me but a lot of female colleagues. His harassment was a topic of corridor gossip," the woman, who cannot be named under Indian law told New Delhi Television (NDTV).

The woman also said she was “laughed at" when she complained to TERI, adding that this was why she did not lodge a police complaint.

Pachauri headed the think-tank for more than 30 years. An internal inquiry committee of the think-tank found Pachauri guilty of misconduct and the organisation said it was removing him as director general. However he continued in the role until earlier this week, when he was appointed as TERI's executive vice-chairman.

TRTWorld, Reuters