A Delhi court today granted exemption from personal appearance to former TERI Chief RK Pachauri, accused of sexually harassing his ex-colleague, on the ground that he is undergoing treatment for arthritis in Mexico.
Metropolitan Magistrate Chetna Singh granted the relief to the accused after his counsel submitted that Pachauri was suffering from severe Rheumatoid Arthritis (inflammation of joints) and he has gone to Mexico for treatment. The magistrate said a detailed order would be passed later and posted the matter for hearing on October 25.
The plea was opposed by the complainant's counsel, who said these were "delaying tactics" on the part of the accused. The exemption application filed through Pachauri's counsel Ashish Dixit said the accused was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in May this year and was undergoing treatment at Fortis hospital here.
"But his condition was not improving," it said, adding that he had consulted a doctor in Mexico where he is currently undergoing some crucial tests.
The application said that Pachauri was to return on July 12 but "during examination by doctor, the condition of the disease of the accused was diagnosed to be critical and the doctor has directed certain urgent tests and procedures to be conducted." It said Pachauri's non-appearance was due to his medical condition and "neither intentional nor deliberate."
Pachauri also filed an application seeking to restrain the complainant from speaking to media about the case, contending that it was violating his right for a fair trial and "interfering in administration of justice".
Over 1,400-page charge sheet was filed by Delhi Police on March 1, 2016, saying there was "sufficient evidence" against Pachauri that he had sexually harassed, stalked and threatened the complainant.
A supplementary charge sheet was filed in March this year after the police said it retrieved several deleted emails and chats exchanged between the accused and the complainant. The final report had said that deleted SMS and WhatsApp chats, text messages, retrieved from the cell phones, computer hard disks and other devices, were "not fabricated".
The charge sheet, which was filed a year after the former research analyst of TERI lodged the complaint, had said Pachauri had committed offences under sections 354 of IPC by outraging her modesty, 354A by making physical contact, unwelcome and sexually coloured remarks, 354D as he followed her through emails and messages. Besides these, sections 506 (threat) and 509 (teasing and using vulgar gesture and actions) were also included.
Pachauri had denied all the allegations against him. On February 13, 2015 an FIR was registered against him and he was granted anticipatory bail in the case on March 21. The former TERI chief had earlier secured an order from Additional District Judge that makes it mandatory for media houses to publish or telecast the coverage of the case with a title that "In any court the allegations have not been proved and they may not be correct."
The interim order further said, "When such information is published in any page of a magazine or report then it should be in middle of the page in bold letters and it should be five times larger than the font in which the article is being published."