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Sexual harassment case: Delhi court refuses to hear Pachauri's travel plea

Source: PTI
April 20, 2015 15:50 IST
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A Delhi court on Monday refused to hear the plea of TERI Director General R K Pachauri, who is facing sexual harassment allegations from a woman employee, to travel abroad for the Global Water Summit in Greece after the complainant questioned the maintainability of his plea.

Additional Sessions Judge Raj Kumar Tripathi granted liberty to Pachauri to withdraw his plea and move a fresh application before the metropolitan magistrate having territorial jurisdiction of the case.

"In view of the objection raised on behalf of complainant as well as the prosecution, this application stands withdrawn with the liberty to the accused that fresh application may be filed before the concerned court," the judge said.

During the hearing, advocate Shankh Sengupta, appearing for Pachauri, said his client is the face of India for environment protection and he has to attend the Global Water Summit in Athens, where he is the keynote speaker.

He sought court's permission to travel abroad from April 26 to April 29 and said if Pachauri skips the summit then the country's image will be at stake.

Opposing the contention, Prashant Mendirata, counsel for the complainant, said Pachauri's application is not maintainable before the sessions court as FIR has been lodged and statements recorded under section 164 of CrPC of the alleged victim is already before the court of metropolitan magistrate.

"This application at this stage is not maintainable before the sessions court. Under the laid provisions and rules only a Mahilla Court of metropolitan magistrate can provide any relief to the accused," Mendirata said.

He contended that the sessions court does not have any jurisdiction to hear this plea and only application seeking modification or recall of the earlier order of anticipatory bail granted to the accused could be dealt by this court. 

The court then asked Sengupta to satisfy it by citing provisions to deal with the maintainability of his application which he failed to do so and sought liberty to withdraw the plea and move it before the concerned metropolitan magistrate.

Public Prosecutor M Zafar Khan also opposed the plea of Pachauri and said that the invite for the Summit is for the head of TERI and if he has proceeded on leave then some other person can go in his place.

He said that the motive behind the conditions laid down by the court while granting Pachauri anticipatory bail will be defeated if he is allowed to travel abroad.

On April 17, Pachauri had moved the court seeking permission to travel abroad to attend the summit.

In his plea, Pachauri had said he has to participate in the summit as he has given the confirmation and if he was unable to attend it, there would be irreparable loss to his reputation.

Pachauri had proceeded on leave from The Energy and Resources Institute after sexual harassment charges were levelled against him by a woman employee.

He had also stepped down from United Nation's Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change and Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change.

On March 21, Pachauri was granted anticipatory bail by the court which had rejected the request of police for his custody.

The court had granted him anticipatory bail by imposing several conditions on him including that he will join the probe as and when called, he will not enter TERI office premises and not intimidate or threaten the complainant and the witnesses of the case.

Delhi Police had sought recall of the court's earlier order granting interim protection from arrest to Pachauri, alleging that he was misusing the liberty granted to him and influencing the witnesses. The contentions of the police were rejected by the court.

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 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. 

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