Sexual harassment: HC refuses to stay Tribunal's proceedings in RK Pachauri's case
On February 13, 2016, an FIR was registered against Pachauri on charges of sexual harassment under IPC sections 354, 354 (a), 354 (d) (molestation) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to stay the proceedings before an industrial tribunal, which is hearing former TERI chief RK Pachauri's plea against internal complaints committee's findings on him in a sexual harassement case.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said that it cannot give any "interim order at the fag end" of the hearing before the Tribunal where the matter is to be taken up on May 19.
"Now at the fag end, you (former TERI employee, who filed complaint against Pachauri before the committee) are coming and pressing for the interim order which cannot be granted at this stage," the court said.
It, however, said that if the Tribuanl passes any order, then till the next date of hearing on June 1 before it, that order shall "not be given effect".
The court gave the direction during hearing of a plea by a woman who alleged that The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) had not acted against Pachauri as per recommendations of an internal complaints committee (ICC) in connection with her sexual harassment complaint.
The counsel for the woman said that they have challenged the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Rules to the extent that they vest a Tribunal set up under Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act to deal with appeals against ICC report or non-implementation of its recommendations.
The counsel said they have challenged the jurisdiction of the Tribunal besides its May 29 last year order staying the implementation of the ICC report.
Pachauri had filed an appeal before the Tribunal against the ICC's report contending that he was not given an opportunity to defend himself or present his case, which was a violation of the procedures for conducting inquiries as laid down in the Sexual Harassment of Women Act.
Another plea filed by the woman seeking to vacate stay granted by the Tribunal on the ICC's findings is also pending before it.
The 29-year-old complainant had recently quit TERI alleging she was being treated in the "worst possible manner", a charge termed by TERI as "completely false and baseless".
Earlier, TERI had termed the petition as not maintainable as there was an alternative remedy of approaching an appellate authority, prescribed by Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act and Rules against non-implementation of the internal complaints committee (ICC) recommendations.
Depending on the decision of the appellate authority, a plea can be moved before the court, TERI had said.
Pachauri had also sought dismissal of the petition as it amounted to the abuse of process of law.
During the hearing today, the woman's counsel alleged that TERI and its governing council had "primarily failed to treat it as a misconduct or suspend him (Pachauri)" as recommended by ICC in its report.
The counsel also alleged that TERI was treating the ICC report "like a backroom inquiry" and sought its service rules saying there was a "lack of transparency" on how the institute funded by the government worked.
On this, the court asked the organisation to produce a copy of service rule book on next date of hearing on June 1.
On February 13 last year, 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 had moved the trial court for relief following the direction of the High Court which had on February 19 last year given him interim protection from arrest. He was later granted anticipatory bail on March 23, 2015 by a trial court.
Recently, the police had filed a charge sheet against him before a trial court for allegedly sexually harassing and outraging the modesty of an ex-colleague. The court took cognisance of the charge sheet and fixed the matter for further proceedings on July 11.