NEW DELHI: Delhi High Court today begun hearing on the maintainability of a fresh plea of a woman employee of TERI alleging that the organisation had not taken any action against its chief R K Pachauri as recommended by an internal complaints committee (ICC) in connection with her sexual harassment complaint.
During the hearing, the petitioner's counsel alleged that The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and its governing council "primarily failed to treat it as a misconduct or suspend him (Pachauri)" as recommended by ICC in its report. The counsel also alleged that TERI was treating the ICC report "like a backroom inquiry" and sought its service rules saying there was a "lack of transparency" in how the organisation, funded by the government, worked.
Making observations regarding maintainability of the plea, Justice R S Endlaw asked "what about its funding? What is the extent of funding? They appear to be omnipotent. They are there in all schools and colleges holding summer camps." The query was aimed at ascertaining whether TERI can be treated as a 'state' as per Article 12 of the Constitution.
While the petitioner maintained that since TERI was government funded, it could be treated as a state and a writ petition will be maintainable, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain said the government only funded certain projects of TERI and had no control over its management.
On ASG's submission, the court said "if you fund them, there would be some audit. There would be some conditions attached, especially when you are regularly funding them." ASG assured the court that he will explain the funding aspect and added that a writ petition would not be maintainable against TERI as it is not 'state' as per Article 12 of the Constitution.
The petition has sought directions to TERI and its governing council to give a declaration that they would abide by the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act and Rules. It also sought directions to TERI to move the Industrial Tribunal to challenge its May 29 order staying implementation the ICC recommendations.