The Energy and Resources Institute Director-General R K Pachauri, who is facing sexual harassment allegations from a woman employee, was on Saturday granted anticipatory bail by a Delhi court which rejected the request of police for his custody.
While extending the relief, the court said it was on a condition that he will join the investigation as and when called and also follow previous directions like not entering the TERI office premises.
During the hearing, the Delhi police which moved an application seeking recall of court's order granting protection from arrest to Pachauri, alleged that he is misusing the liberty granted to him and influencing the witnesses.
"Arguments heard from all the parties. There is no substance in the plea of prosecution for recall of earlier order to grant interim protection to the accused. Anticipatory bail is granted to the accused with a condition that he will join the investigation as and when called by the investigating officer of the case," Additional Sessions Judge Raj Kumar Tripathi said.
Additional public prosecutor M Zafar Khan said that when statements of an assistant to Pachauri was recorded it was disclosed that he has met him in hospital and had dictated a version to be given to the police.
Public prosecutor also alleged that he is not joining the investigation and under his influence even TERI officials are not cooperating with the police.
"We need his custodial interrogation to corroborate the evidence and to stop him from influencing the witnesses," Khan said. He also added that two officials who came to Lodhi colony police station on Friday to submit Pachauri's two laptops had tried to video record the conversations between SHO and them.
"When the photographer was questioned, he said TERI officials have asked him to video record the conversations to help Pachauri in the case," Khan said. He added IT experts are not being allowed to enter TERI offices and even if allowed inside, no cooperation is extended to them and they are deliberately being made to wait.
The court maintained that the earlier conditions imposed on Pachauri like he will not enter the TERI office premises and he will not intimidate or threaten the complainant and the witnesses of the case will continue.
Earlier, on February 23, the court had issued notice to the IO of the case and sought his response on Pachauri's anticipatory bail application. On February 13, a first information report was registered against Pachauri for the offence of sexual harassment under sections 354 A and 354 D and for criminal intimidation under section 506 Indian Penal Code at Lodhi Colony Police station.
Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra appearing for Pachauri argued that his client has gone on leave from TERI and himself has written to the deputy commissioner of police, after coming out from hospital, that he is willing to join the investigation.
"This application for recall of court's order is pre-conceived. Pachauri has tried to contact the IO and the DCP through email and phone but they did not respond and later filed the application in the court," Luthra said.
He said all the allegations levelled against his client are baseless and pre-conceived.
"Since this case surfaced, it seems lot of people are running after Pachauri for a reason or other," he said. Advocate Prashant Mendiratta appearing for complainant said that the present application of the Delhi police only substantiates their apprehension made in the status report of IO that he may try to influence the witnesses.
He alleged that the interim director general of TERI Leena Srivastava has been appointed on the direction of Pachauri himself and under his signature after he proceeded on leave and one can see the influence he still exercises in TERI.
Mendirata alleged that the colleagues of the complainant who are working at TERI are being questioned by the administration and their computers are being monitored.
He requested the court to recall its order of granting interim protection as Pachauri can tamper with evidence and was ‘influencing the witnesses’. Earlier, on February 26, the court had restrained Pachauri from entering TERI office premises and contacting its officials. It had asked him not to leave the country and also granted him interim protection from arrest till March 27.
The court said that although the anticipatory bail plea was fixed for final disposal on March 27, it decided to take it up along with other applications moved by the Delhi police.
The court granted anticipatory bail to Pachauri on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and one surety of like amount. Pachauri has been booked under sections 354, 354 (a), 354 (d) (molestation) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.
He had moved the trial court for relief following the direction of the Delhi high court, which had on February 19 given him interim protection from arrest till February 23.