New Delhi: Police on Thursday sought cancellation of anticipatory bail to TERI director general RK Pachauri, accused of sexual harassment, saying he was influencing witnesses and misusing the liberty of bail, a charge denied him.
In its plea before a Delhi High Court bench of Justice SP Garg, the Delhi Police submitted that Pachauri was evasive during interrogation and not cooperating with probe agencies, as it supported the alleged victim's plea that the bail granted to him should be cancelled.
Pachauri, on the other hand, submitted that there was "nothing on record to suggest that he has ever influenced witnesses or any other persons related to the present case or interfered in the investigation".
The submissions of the police and Pachauri were made before the court, which was hearing the woman's plea seeking cancellation of the anticipatory bail granted to him by a lower court on March 21.
The 29-year-old female research analyst has alleged in her application that "free and fair investigation" cannot be carried out if Pachauri was "allowed to roam around freely".
Countering this contention, the TERI chief said there was "nothing on record to suggest that free and fair investigation is not possible in the present case".
The police in a status report filed through their Additional Standing Counsel said "during the course of investigation, RK Pachauri was interrogated four times...At his residence in the presence of his lawyer, but he is not cooperating completely with the investigating agency and (has) avoided giving proper replies to the questions put up before him during interrogation".
Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, who filed reply on behalf of the TERI chief, said: "Pachauri has co-operated in the investigation to the best of his abilities."
The court, which took note of both the affidavits, fixed the matter for disposal on September 30. The police in their status report also submitted that "investigation of the case is at a very crucial stage. FSL (forensic) result in the matter with regard to tampering/ hacking mobile phones, computers, laptops and other electronic gadgets from which the messages/e-mails have been sent to the complainant by the respondent 2 (Pachauri), is awaited.
"Detailed custodial interrogation of Pachauri is required to ascertain true facts of the case as he is giving evasive replies to the questions put up to him by the investigating agency. He is misusing liberty of anticipatory bail and is influencing the witnesses by giving them certain directions as admitted by him during interrogation...."
The probe agency further said they had written to the chief of the forensic lab in Gandhinagar, Gujarat to give an opinion at the earliest with regard to tampering/hacking of electronic gadgets/devices.
"Keeping in view the above facts and circumstances, the bail granted to RK Pachauri may be cancelled," the police status report added.
In his reply, the TERI chief claimed he had never "interacted with the complainant since she was transferred and the alleged attempts made by him are categorically denied as they are incorrect and malicious".
It further said that the "bonafide of the present application are highly doubtful because the petitioner (woman) has never challenged the grant of anticipatory of bail till the time he sought modification of the condition".
"It is prayed that this court should not entertain such surreptitious petitions in the interest of justice...Dismiss the present petition seeking cancellation of the anticipatory bail granted to him," Pachauri said in his reply, adding that "grant cost of present proceedings".
The complainant's counsel Prashant Mendiratta has alleged in the court that Pachauri was "dictating what needs to be said to the witnesses" in the case and claimed there was "overwhelming evidence" to show that he had misused the bail conditions.
The woman in his petition claimed that Pachauri was "abusing his position and hijacking the entire electronic evidence as well as the material witnesses", saying that "grave prejudice would be caused" to her if anticipatory bail to Pachauri was not cancelled.
Referring to a March 21 order of lower court, the woman 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 TERI officials and influencing witnesses.
She also opposed Pachauri's request before a trial court to modify its order barring him from entering TERI.
On March 21, Pachauri was granted anticipatory bail by the trial court which had rejected the police's request 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 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 permission to resume work from the office premises.
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.