Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
A lawyer for Rajendra Pachauri says that preventing the former IPCC chairman from delivering a speech at a trade show in Greece will damage India’s image and harm Pachauri’s reputation.
A Global Water Summit will begin in Athens a week from today. In a hotel close to the Parthenon, politicians, activists, and members of the “international water industry” will gather to discuss topics such as desalination, wastewater treatment, and infrastructure investment.
The organizers of this summit continue to insist that the keynote speaker for their opening session will be Rajendra Pachauri. Nowhere on its website are participants informed that this man is under police investigation in his home country of India, or that he has been barred by the courts from traveling abroad. Earlier today, a judge declined to lift Pachauri’s travel ban on the grounds that he’d applied to the wrong court.
In February, Pachauri resigned as head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after a female employee at his New Delhi institute filed a police complaint. The allegations against him involve four sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to sexual assault, stalking, harassment, and the uttering of threats. Maximum prison sentences of two, three, and seven years apply.
If Pachauri were less well-connected, he would likely already be in police custody. Aggressive, preemptive action on the part of his legal team has secured him “interim” or “anticipatory” bail – which translates to temporary protection from arrest. One of Pachauri’s bail conditions is that he cannot leave the country without permission.
The Hindu newspaper reports that Pachauri’s lawyer told the court today that
his client is the face of India for environment protection and he has to attend the Global Water Summit in Athens, where he is the key note speaker.
He sought court’s permission to travel abroad from April 26 to April 29 and said if Dr. Pachauri skips the summit then the country’s image will be at stake. [bold added]
According to the news report, the lawyer also argued that, since Pachauri has already confirmed his attendance at the summit, his absence would result in “irreparable loss to his reputation.”
Welcome to the world inhabited by Rajendra Pachauri:
Yet this man somehow believes his good name remains intact. In his view, it will be the court’s fault rather than his own if his reputation suffers “irreparable loss” should he fail to deliver a speech in a foreign country next Monday morning.
The organizer of the Global Water Summit 2015 is an outfit called Global Water Intelligence. But there isn’t much intelligence on display here. No self-respecting body should be giving Pachauri a podium until the allegations against him have been addressed.
The electronic messages the complainant has supplied to the police, as well as the descriptions of Pachauri’s routine behaviour provided by her and others, paint a disturbing picture. There is a good chance that Pachauri is, in fact, a monstrous sexual predator.
His invitation to speak should be rescinded immediately.
Donna Laframboise is a Canadian investigative journalist and author of the 2013 book, Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize. See Amazon.com, Amazon India, and other Amazon stores.