Former TERI Chief RK Pachauri Passes Away at 79

Pachauri had to step down from his position after he was accused of sexually harassing a former woman colleague.

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Former TERI chief and environmentalist RK Pachauri, who was on life support, passed away at the age of 79 on Thursday, 13 February.

“It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing away of Dr RK Pachauri, the Founder Director of TERI. The entire TERI family stands with the family of Dr Pachauri in this hour of grief,” TERI tweeted.

Pachauri was admitted to the Escorts Heart Institute in Delhi with a prolonged cardiac ailment and underwent an open heart surgery. Sources also told The Quint that 79-year-old Pachauri was on ventilator. He reportedly suffered a heart stroke in Mexico in July last year.

Pachauri was born on 20 August 1940 in Nainital, Uttarakhand, and studied at La Martiniere College in Lucknow and at the Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in Jamalpur, Bihar.

Pachauri won the Padma Bhushan in 2001 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008, the third and second highest civilian awards of the country.

In the statement issued by TERI on Thursday, 13 February, chairperson Nitin Desai hailed Pachauri's contribution to global sustainable development as "unparalleled".

“His leadership of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) laid the ground for climate change conversations today,” Desai said.

He served in various positions in the Indian Railways, including at the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi.

Pachauri joined the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, US, and obtained an MS in industrial engineering in 1972, Ph.Ds in industrial engineering and economics.

He also served as Assistant Professor (August 1974-May 1975) and Visiting Faculty (Summer 1976 and 1977) in the Department of Economics and Business.

Pachauri had to step down from his position in The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) after he was accused of sexually harassing a former woman colleague. The woman filed a complaint with the Delhi Police in 2015.

After she had filed a complaint against Pachauri, more allegations emerged in the months that followed.

What’s the Case All About?

In February 2015, a 29-year-old woman, who worked as a research analyst at TERI, lodged a complaint against Pachauri for sexually harassing her. The FIR listed various offences against the environmentalist, such as of him sending “obscene” WhatsApp messages, emails, and making unwanted physical advances. Pachauri was booked under Sections 354A (advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures), 354B (using criminal force against a woman), 354D (stalking), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 341 (wrongful restraint).

TERI, in February 2016, appointed Pachauri as the executive vice-chairperson despite the allegations against him. However, following severe criticism, Pachauri went on indefinite leave from the organisation. Soon after, TERI terminated its three-year contract with him.

Later in the same month, another woman – a former employee at TERI – alleged that she had been sexually harassed when she worked with him 10 years ago. A third woman came forward in March 2016, accusing him of harassment.


In March 2017, Delhi Police filed a Forensic Science Laboratory report in the case against him. The report stated that contrary to Pachauri’s insistence, no malware had tampered with the “obscene” text messages and emails that he had allegedly sent his former colleague.

In October 2018, three years after the FIR was filed against Pachauri on grounds of sexual harassment, a Delhi court had framed molestation charges against the environmentalist. The court framed charges under Sections 354 (outraging modesty), 354A (making physical contact, unwelcome and sexually coloured remarks) and 509 (teasing and using vulgar gesture and actions) of the Indian Penal Code.

The charges were framed after Pachauri appeared in court and pleaded not guilty.

According to an Economic Times report dated July 2019, Pachauri had sought exemption from personal appearance from court appearance on health grounds. He was reportedly undergoing treatment in a hospital in Mexico since 2018.

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