BENGALURU: The Committee for Prevention of Sexual Harassment (CPSH) at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), in its final inquiry report, has held its law school Dean Prof Lawrence Liang guilty of sexually harassing a PhD student. The committee has asked him to step down from administrative duties for a period of two years.Liang is the founder of Alternative Law Forum, a Bengaluru-based collective of lawyers, and a recipient of the Infosys Science Foundation Prize 2017 in the Social Sciences category. ’s name was on law student Raya Sarkar’s crowdsourced list of academics accused of sexual harassment that went viral on social media last year. The university instituted an inquiry following a complaint from a PhD student.
In its recommendations, the inquiry report dated February 20 -- a copy of which is with The New Indian Express -- said Liang should not be in any administrative position for at least two years; and that he should be issued a warning letter by the university that a complaint of sexual harassment against him in the future could have serious consequences, including suspension from service.
It also recommended that Liang undergo a suitable course on sexual harassment at workplace, besides signing a formal undertaking that he has read and understood the AUD policy and would conduct himself appropriately in adherence to the AUD Policy. When contacted, Prof Liang told The New Indian Express, “The CPSH at AUD has conducted proceedings in which I was the defendant. The CPSH has given a report and made certain recommendations. I informed the CPSH and AUD of my intention to appeal immediately on receipt of the report.”
He said: “I dispute the report in its entirety, its findings and recommendations included. Some persons have initiated selective leaks. These persons know that I have signed confidentiality rules and cannot respond. Selective leaks demonise, cause a media trial, and proclaim guilt in advance… I intend to exhaust every channel open to me to clear my name.”
In November 2017, when The New Indian Express questioned the trustees of Infosys Sceince Foundation regarding these allegations and the appropriateness of awarding the prize to one accused of sexual harassment, Infosys Science Foundation general manager Bhavna Mehra had said, “There are many things said on social media. It is a democratised space and anyone can comment anything, but there is no proof of it. It’s the work we are rewarding.”
Raya Sarkar told TNIE, “Personally, I feel the guilty conviction did very little to ensure the safety of students in the university. The university did not indicate a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment as the professor is still allowed to freely teach and interact with women students. The bar cannot be so low… we need complaint committees to deliver substantive and restorative justice- not just lip service.” When TNIE tried reaching Infosys Science Foundation’s Bhavna Mehra in the wake of this report, she did not respond; neither did the trustees of the Foundation.