India police say former UN climate panel head Pachauri obstructing sex claims probe

Former United Nations climate panel head Rajendra Pachauri has been accused of obstructing the investigation of sexual harassment claims against him by the Indian police.
Former United Nations climate panel head Rajendra Pachauri has been accused of obstructing the investigation of sexual harassment claims against him by the Indian police.PHOTO: WORLD FUTURE ENERGY SUMMIT

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indian police on Thursday accused former United Nations climate panel head Rajendra Pachauri of obstructing their investigation into sexual harassment claims against him, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency and a lawyer said.

Police told the Delhi high court that Pachauri had been evasive during interrogations, and that it supported the alleged victim's application to have his bail cancelled.

"He is not cooperating completely with the investigating agency and (has) avoided giving proper replies to the questions put up before him during interrogation," PTI quoted police as saying in a progress report to the court.

Prashant Mendiratta, lawyer for the complainant, told AFP the police had produced "overwhelming evidence" that Pachauri was "dictating to witnesses what to state to the police".

"Mr. Pachauri was influencing the witnesses and tampering with the evidence. This is the basis of our request for cancellation of his anticipatory bail," Mendiratta said.

Pachauri, a leading voice on the dangers of global warming, was forced to step down as the chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this year after a female colleague at his Delhi think-tank said he harassed her.

Police last month questioned the 74-year-old based on the evidence provided by the woman, who accused him of sexually harassing her through repeated inappropriate emails, text and WhatsApp messages.

He has not been charged and a lower court in March granted him "anticipatory bail", meaning that police cannot take him into custody or arrest him before a certain date.

But the 29-year-old complainant argues that a free and fair investigation cannot be carried out if Pachauri is "allowed to roam around freely", PTI said.

Pachauri denies the allegations and says his emails and mobile phone were hacked. He is on long-term leave from the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), where the complainant still works.

He told the court on Thursday there was nothing to suggest he had "influenced witnesses or any other persons related to the present case," according to the PTI report.

No one at the court or Delhi police could be reached for comment.

The court had imposed several conditions on Pachauri when it granted bail, ordering that he should stay away from TERI's offices and not intimidate or threaten the complainant or witnesses in the case.

Mendiratta said the court would resume its hearing on September 30.