South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a democratic regional network of human rights defenders, condemns the launching of a civil suit against the lawyer and SAHR bureau member Vrinda Grover by Rajendra K. Pachauri, former head of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The civil suit seeks an injunction against the media and damages to the tune of 10 million Indian Rupees from Vrinda Grover, who is representing and speaking on behalf of two women who have accused him of sexual harassment when they worked at TERI under him. SAHR considers this an egregious act against the delivery of substantive justice under the present Indian laws prohibiting sexual harassment at the workplace and a covert assault on the women victims’ right to legal representation.
SAHR is deeply concerned about the absolute lack of will displayed by the police in recording the complaints of two of the women victims, as well as deliberate inaction by the TERI management, leading to distortion of justice and impunity. SAHR emphasises that the fact that more than one woman has made serious complaints of sexual harassment against Mr. Pachauri, points to a hostile work environment at TERI, where he held the post of Director General.
SAHR, therefore, urges the relevant authorities to expedite due process in securing justice to the women despite the numerous hurdles being created in the garb of legal proceedings to obstruct their right to justice.
The complaints of sexual harassment at workplace against Mr. Pachauri, who both within India and globally holds positions of power and influence, are a major step forward as women are breaking the silence on sexual harassment at the workplace as well as asserting the right to dignity of working women. This is particularly significant in the context of the dominant patriarchal social milieu in the region, where women victims are often discouraged from seeking justice, citing false notions of shame, stigma and loss of family honour.
SAHR stands by Advocate Vrinda Grover and in solidarity with the women’s rights activists and organizations who have condemned the filing of civil suit against her.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights
Dr. Nimalka Fernando