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Embattled Pachauri quits IPCC post

Embattled Pachauri quits IPCC post
Just two days before the Delhi High Court takes up hearing of the anticipatory bail petition filed by 74-year-old RK Pachauri in a sexual harassment case, the veteran environmental activist decided to step down as head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations and also went on unscheduled leave from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). Pachauri is facing allegations that he sexually harassed a 29-year-old woman researcher in Delhi.

TERI, the NGO he heads in India, also announced that Pachauri is on leave “for the time being” but disclosed no reasons for him doing so. Without citing any reasons, including the fact that he is facing a complaint from a woman staffer filed with the Delhi Police, Pachauri wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that he has decided to step down from the Chair of IPCC, which he has headed for 13 years. He had a few months to go before completion of his term.

“The IPCC needs strong leadership and dedication of time and full attention by the Chair in the immediate future, which under the current circumstances I may be unable to provide, as shown by my inability to travel to Nairobi to chair the plenary session of the Panel this week. I have, therefore, taken the decision to step down from my position as Chair of the IPCC some months before completion of my term, and with effect from February 24, 2015,” he said in his letter to Moon.

In 2007, Pachauri was the proud joint-recipient of  the Nobel awarded to the IPCC under his chairmanship along with former US vice president-turned climate campaigner Al Gore. But three years later, Pachauri was mired in controversy when errors were found in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.

On February 13, an FIR was registered by the victim at south Delhi’s Lodhi Colony against Pachauri, accusing him of sexual harassment under sections 354 A and 354 D and for criminal intimidation under section 506 of the Indian Penal Code. However, soon after the FIR was lodged, Pachauri moved a complaint before the police alleging that his communication devices like cell-phone and computers have been hacked.

Later Pachauri moved to trial court for relief following the direction of the Delhi high court, which had on February 19 given him interim protection till February 23. The court on Monday granted interim protection from arrest till February 26. The police officials privy to the investigation did not share details of the probe as the matter was sub-judice.
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