Former UN climate panel chief Pachauri quits India's climate change council over sex claims

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Rajendra Pachauri has stepped down from India's council for climate change just days after sexual harassment claims led to his resignation from the UN's climate panel, the Indian premier's office said Saturday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi "has accepted Pachauri's resignation", his office said in a statement, without giving any specific reason.

The 18-member council, which advises the Indian government on climate change, plays a key role in formulating the country's policy tackling the critical issue.

Pachauri, 74, is being investigated by police for the alleged sexual harassment of a young female employee at his New Delhi research institute office.

He has been barred by a court from leaving the country and is currently hospitalised with heart problems.

Pachauri, a leading voice on the dangers of global warming, resigned on Tuesday as chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) but continues as the head of a Delhi-based global research institute, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

A 29-year old female researcher at TERI has accused Pachauri of repeatedly behaving inappropriately including through emails, text and WhatsApp messages.

He has denied the allegations, saying his emails and mobile phone were hacked.

The Indian council will play a key role in presenting New Delhi's stand on climate change at the UN's international climate conference scheduled in Paris later this year.

India will be under pressure from the global community for resisting environmental restrictions, which it believes will impediment its economic growth.