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200 activists across country condemn Pachauri civil suit against Vrinda Grover




About 200  activists  and academicians across the  country condemned the   R K  Pachauri SLAPP suit against , Advocate Vrinda Grover seeking injunction and Rs1 crore in damages, alleging she was trying to prejudice the ongoing sexual harassment case against him.




We, the undersigned activists and organizations of the Indian women’s movement express our outrage at the fact that R.K. Pachauri has filed a civil suit for injunction and demanded damages of Rs. 1 crore against Advocate Vrinda Grover. The attempt is to hold Ms. Grover liable in a civil suit for her efforts towards bringing official cognisance of two complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace brought against Mr. R.K. Pachauri by two of his former colleagues. Both these women have complained that they were sexually harassed at TERI by Mr. Pachauri much prior to the complainant of FIR dated 18th February 2015, in which Mr. R.K. Pachauri has now been charge-sheeted in February 2016. Alarmingly, despite the fact that Ms. Grover has sent repeated written communications to senior officers of the Delhi police informing them that her two clients would like their statements to be recorded, the police have till date not taken any steps in this regard. The very public attack on Ms. Grover is a matter of concern for all those who, like the signatories to this letter, are struggling to deliver substantive justice under the laws on sexual harassment in the workplace in India today.

Firstly: All codes of professional ethics have been breached in this act of suing Ms. Grover for damages. Mr. Pachauri’s legal representative, Ashish Dixit, in The New Indian Express article titled “European Woman Accused Pachauri of Harassment”, dated 31st March 2016, has charged Ms. Grover of leading a “conspiracy to defame” Mr. R.K. Pachauri. This imputation of motives of a criminal nature to Ms. Grover, the opposing counsel, is a serious violation of the statutorily binding professional code of conduct and etiquette expected from advocates. This breach is made even more egregious by the fact that Ms. Grover is the woman lawyer representing two women in their complaints of sexual harassment by the petitioner, leading as it does to the inescapable conclusion that the civil suit is just a continuation of the intimidation and vilification of women (be they complainants or their lawyers) who have the temerity to pursue complaints of sexual harassment against powerful men.

Second: Given that laws and provisions legitimising the grievance of workplace sexual harassment are relatively recent, investigation into such charges needs to record the complete history of every case that may be relevant to ongoing investigations. By refusing to record the statements of Ms. Grover’s clients against Mr. R.K. Pachauri for close to a year after Ms. Grover approached them on their behalf, the police have already demonstrated its lack of commitment to a full and vigorous investigation of these women’s grievances. Now, by suing Ms. Grover for acting on her clients’ instructions to make their statements public, Mr. Pachauri seeks to restrain her from executing her responsibilities to her clients. Clearly his intent is also to deny to these two women, and by implication all complainants, the right to share their experiences of sexual harassment in public when their every effort to access justice has been thwarted.

The fact of the matter is that this civil suit against Ms. Grover is yet another instance of the impunity which Mr. Pachauri has been able to maintain with respect to his abuse of three women’s human rights. His objective in trying to gag Ms. Grover, is to consolidate the immunity given to him by his organisation TERI, by ‘cooperative’ police officials strangely reluctant to record the two statements that will strengthen the case against him, and amenable sections of the media which have buttressed his claims of being framed in the charges against him.

Over the past month or so, Mr. Pachauri has courted the international media. In interviews given to The Guardian and The Observer, he presents himself as a man beleaguered and hounded by climate-change sceptics and women activists, conflating women activists taking up charges of sexual harassment with climate change sceptics. The three women complainants it should be pointed out were working for the cause of climate change to the point of enduring sexual harassment from Pachauri, which makes such a charge of belittling the cause of climate change absolutely ridiculous.

As individuals and organisations committed to the implementation of the country’s laws on sexual harassment in the workplace, we condemn in the strongest terms Mr. Pachauri’s shamelessly transparent bid to influence the sub judice case about to enter its trial phase in a month’s time. The fact that Mr. Pachauri’s suit is also directed simultaneously at prominent Indian media houses, such as Bennett Coleman, NDTV, and India Today, reveals an intent aimed at throttling all public reference to the complaints of sexual harassment against him.

Furthermore, we would like to emphasise that Mr. Pachauri’s suit against opposing counsel has implications that will have a chilling effect on complaints of sexual harassment, as it has all the characteristics of an instance of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). Such legal actions are intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defence until they abandon their criticism or opposition. In addition, since Mr. Pachauri’s suit also targets prominent media houses, the aim is perpetuation of a social space in which only Mr. Pachauri’s defence and allegations against complainant(s) holds sway, thereby creating an atmosphere that is in general disbelieving and often downright hostile to complainant(s) and their efforts to access justice.

Accordingly, we demand that official cognizance be taken of the attempt to intimidate Ms. Grover and her clients. Mr Pachauri’s actions suggest that he has learnt nothing from the failure of his earlier attempts to silence the complainants. Mr. Pachauri it appears is finding it difficult to understand that he can no longer evade the law and he will have to face legal consequences.

We expect those who bear the responsibility of bringing him to justice, to convey this message to Mr. Pachauri in clear and unambiguous terms. We also urge the National Commission for Women to maintain oversight of the pre-trial process and ensure that it is not influenced or subverted by those who seek to protect Mr. Pachauri from the consequences of his actions.

We call upon all like-minded individuals and organisations to join us in supporting the right of Advocate Vrinda Grover to pursue this case and bring justice where it is due.
Ayesha Kidwai, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Ania Loomba, JNIAS/ University of Pennsylvania
Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships, Gurgaon
Mary E John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies
Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA
Janaki Abraham, Delhi University
AIDWA, Delhi
Nandini Rao, New Delhi
Geetha Nambisan, Jagori
Annie Raja, NFIW
Syeda Hameed
A. Mani, University of Calcutta
Aarthi Pai, Lawyer
Aatreyee Sen, Forum for Human Rights and Justice
Ahmad Faraz, Coordinator MenEngage Delhi
Ammu Joseph, Independent journalist and author
Anita Ghai, Ambedkar University
Anja Kovacs, Internet Democracy Project
Anjuman Ara Begum, Women in Governance, India
Ankita, NIRD
Anuradha Kapoor, Swayam
Aprajita Sarcar, Queen’s University, Canada
Archana, PRADAN
Aruna Gnanadason, Independent Consultant
Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM
Ashish Kothari, Pune
Ashok Yadav, Social Worker
Bhim Subba, Delhi University
Binayak. Sen, PUCL /MFC
Burnad Fathima Natesan, Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum.
Chayanika Shah, LABIA – A Queer Feminist LBT Collective
Chirashree Das Gupta, Jawaharlal Nehru University
D Subrahmanyam, PUDR
Deepa V, Delhi
Deepak Xavier, New Delhi
Devadeep Chowdhury, Journalist
Dr Nandita Shah, Akshara
Dr Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party
Dr V Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women
Dr. Anand Philip,
Dr. Anant Phadke, Health activist
Durgesh, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Dyuti, Researcher
G Arunima, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Gabriele Dietrich, Movement for Women’s Rights, Madurai
Gargi Mishra, Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative
Gayatri Sharma, Women Power Connect
Geeta Seshu, Independent Journalist, Mumbai
Gina Dias, New Delhi
Ginny Shrivastava, Women’s Movement
Githa Hariharan, Writer
Gouranga Ch. Mohapatra, Janaswasthys Abhiyan, Odisha
Imrana Qadeer, Council for Social Development
Indranil, Public Health Foundation of India
Ira Bhaskar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Ishita Chaudhry, Founder, The YP Foundation
Janaki Nair, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Jashodhara Dasgupta, SAHAYOG
Jasmeen Patheja, Blank Noise
Javed Malick, Retired Academic
Jaya Menon, Professor, Shiv Nadar University
Jayati Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Johanna Lokhande, Independent
Julia George, Lawyer
Jyoti Sabharwal, University of Delhi
Jyotsna Sivaramayya, Independent Researcher
K.Ajitha, Anweshi Women’s Counselling Centre, Kozhikode, Kerala
Kalpana Mehta, M.P. Maahila Manch
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and Human Rights Activist
Kartika Bhatia, The World Bank
Kasturi Chatterjee, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Kaushik Roy Chowdhury, Accenture
Kavitha Kuruganti, ASHA
Khushboo, University of Delhi
Kriti Budhiraja, University of Minnesota
Lata Singh, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
Lina Krishnan, Bangalore
Madhu Bhushan, Independent activist. (re)searcher, writer
Madhu Sahni, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Madhurima Nundy, Institute of Chinese Studies
Malika Virdi, Maati
Mamatha Karollil, Ambedkar University Delhi
Manak Matiyani, The YP Foundation
Meena Menon, Journalist
Mihira Sood, Advocate, Supreme Court
Mita Deshpande, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Mohan Rao, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Moushumi Basu, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Mridu Kamal, Women’s Rights Activist
Mukul Mangalik, Delhi University
Nalini Nayak, Kerala Stree Vedi
Navaneetha M, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Neeraj Malik, Delhi University
Neha G, Communications Professional
Nisha Biswas, WSS, WB
Nivedita Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Nupur Basu, Journalist
Nupur Chowdhury, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Om Prakash, Delhi University
Padma Deosthali, CEHAT
Padma Velaskar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences,Mumbai
Padmaja Shaw, (retd) Osmania University
Padmini Swaminathan, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Pamela Philipose, Senior Journalist
Panchali Ray, Jadavpur university
Papiya Mazumdar, Institute of Public Health Kalyani, West Begal
Paromita Vohra, Filmmaker and Writer
Poorvi Bhargava, Student
Poulomi Pal, Fulbright scholar
Prabha, TARSHI
Pramada Menon, Independent Consultant
Pratiksha Baxi, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Preeti Chauhan, Individual
Primla Loomba, National Federation of Indian Women
Prof Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University
Prof. Anjali Monteiro, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
R.Gopinath, Jamia Millia Islamia
Radha Holla, Independent researcher
Radhika, Advocate
Rajni Palriwala, Department of Sociology, University of Delhi
Ramnarayan, Uttarakhand
Ranjan De, Documentary film-maker
Reva Prakash, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Ridhima, Delhi
Rigya Singh, NGO
Ritambhara, Nazariya and ASER Centre – Pratham
Rohini Hensman, Union Research Group
S.Ashalatha, Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch
Sadhna, Saheli, Delhi
Sadhna Saxena, Delhi University
Sagari Ramdas, Food Sovereignty Alliance, India
Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Delhi, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre
Samir Kumar Dass, Jharkhand Science Forum & JSA
Sandhya Srinivasan, Journalist
Sangeeta Dasgupta, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Sangeeta Rege, Personal
Sanjay Kak, Film maker, New Delhi
Sarita Falcao, Individual
Sarojini N, Health Researcher
Savita Prabhune, Advocate
Shambhavi Prakash, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Sharmila Sreekumar, Academic
Shehla Rashid, Vice-President JNUSU, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Shewli, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Shilpa Phadke, TISS
Shoba Ghosh, University of Mumbai
Shobha, WSS
Shobhana Warrier, Delhi University
Shraddha, concerned citizen
Shraddha, phD candidate UoH
Shraddha Chigateri, ISST
Shubhangi, Association for Adovcacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI)
Siddharth Narrain, Lawyer, Delhi
Simona Sawhney, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
Soma Kishore Parthasarathy, CAWL Rights
Somya, Student
Sona Mitra, CBGA
Sonal Narain,
Subhash Gatade,
Sucharita Sen, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Sujata Patel, University of Hyderabad
Sukumar Muralidharan, Independent Journalist
Sunalini Kumar, Delhi University
Suneeta Dhar, Activist
Sunil Kaul, The Ant
Sunita Bandewar, Vidhayak Trust, Pune
Supriya Varma, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Surabhi Sharma, Independent filmmaker
Svati P Shah, University of Massachusetts
Swatija Manorama, Forum against oppression of women, Mumbai
Tanvi Mishra, Feminist Approach to Technology
Tenzing Choesang, lawyers collective
Tultul Biswas, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch
Ujwala Kadrekar, Socio-legal Consultant
Uma Chakravarti, Feminist historian, Delhi
Urmimala Sarkar Munsi, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Urvashi Butalia, Zubaan Publishers Pvt Ltd
Usman Jawed,
V.Sujatha, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Vanita Leah Falcao, Independent policy researcher
Vasanth Kannabiran, Asmita Resource Centre for Women
Veronica George, Independent Consultant
Vibhuti Patel, WRAG, Mumbai
Vinay Kulkarni, Prayas Health Group Pune
Vineeta Bal, Scientist, New Delhi
Virginia Saldanha, Indian Christian Women’s Movement

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