Environmentalist R K Pachauri, accused of sexual harassment by his former women colleagues in the recent past, has stepped down as a member of the governing council of The Energy and Resources Institute or TERI "to get engaged in other interests".
The announcement came on the heels of a media report which said the green body has decided to "sever" its association with Pachauri even though his employment contract with the TERI expires in 2017. It said the governing council had also decided to pay all the dues for the remainder of his tenure and bring an immediate end to it.
Pachauri, however, maintained that his term as a member of TERI's governing council ended on March 31, 2016 and he felt it was time "for me to move away and get engaged in other interests which I have harboured over the past few years for activities at the global level".
When contacted for comments, a TERI spokesman did not confirm the contents of the media report, saying,"The governing council of the TERI met on April 18, 2016. Several decisions were taken in the meeting. The minutes of the meeting are currently awaiting approval."
The report had quoted the spokesperson as saying: "Dr Pachauri's term as a Member of the governing council of TERI ended on March 31, 2016. As the post of executive vice chairman is co-terminus with this membership, his role as EVC also ended along with his membership of the council."
Pachauri said that he was issuing the statement "to provide the media with information" about his "stepping down" from TERI's governing council, suggesting the decision to call time on his association with the organisation was voluntary.
In his statement, Pachauri said the TERI staff was its "greatest treasure" which under the new director general will take the institute to much greater heights in the years ahead.
"I have had the good fortune of leading the TERI for three decades and a half and have received the priceless contribution from thousands of colleagues over the years in building up this Institute to level of an outstanding organisation.
"I began with the TERI as the articulation of my dream and humanity's call for a major intellectual resource, which has now grown to a size and spread straddling the whole world, with a staff strength of around 1200 professionals and world class infrastructure and expertise," he said.
Pachauri said he had "greatly" benefited from the support the green body had "always" provided.
"I have also benefited greatly from the support I have always received from TERI's governing council, and would like to place on record my gratitude to them, beginning with the late Darbari Seth, my inspiration and leader in the initial years of TERI's development," he said.
Pachauri was removed from the post of director general last year after an FIR was filed against him following a complaint of sexual harassment made by a junior woman colleague. The Delhi Police had charge-sheeted him in the case early this year.
Despite the controversy, the green body's governing council created a fresh post of executive vice chairman for Pachauri, triggering an outrage, following which he was asked to proceed on leave.
Earlier this year, two more former employees of the TERI, one of them a foreign national, had also accused him of sexual harassment.
Former Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla was recently appointed Chairman of TERI's governing council.