By coming back to power and sitting down in the same office, R.K. Pachauri is setting a very distasteful precedent. He’s creating an opinion about TERI that it cannot remotely afford right now. His impunity also exposes the board as useless appendage. While it may be responsible for governance and Pachauri a member of the board, he is not the board itself. Others should step in and put him in an obscure place and close this swiftly and, if found guilty, the only acceptable outcome is for Pachauri to step down.
Till then, the board should be in charge. And for many months now, they have not shown any evidence that they are; which is precisely why Kiran Mazumdar Shaw had to resign. The law is very clear: the committee to handle this complaint has to be headed by an independent person. The majority has to be independent. They have to hold a hearing and give a verdict while TERI has to protect the complainant from further harassment and retaliation. The organisation has failed rather spectacularly on all accounts. But then it is also true that most corporate boards in India are like that—they are all filled with people whom you know, in return they protect you and they are never really expected to be independent. There are only a few opportunities for people to demonstrate independence: a crisis like this is one of them, regulatory action is another. On these rare occasions if they don’t stand up and make an effort, it essentially means that they have failed.
The members of the society or shareholders have to call for a meeting and ask the board to resign and put new members on the board to clean up the whole mess. There should be zero tolerance. Pachauri would have been better off if they had followed the process instead of doing this.
(T.V. Mohandas Pai is chairman of Manipal Global Education and a former Infosys board member)