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Amebdkar U committee finds ALF founder, NLS grad Lawrence Liang sexually harassed PhD student [UPDATE: Liang issues statement]

University POSH committee finds against legal luminary Liang
University POSH committee finds against legal luminary Liang

Well-known human rights activist, academic and lawyer Lawrence Liang, who is a professor of law at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), has been found guilty by an AUD committee of having sexually harassed a female PhD student of another university, reported Asia Times today.

The committee concluded its findings just over four months after Liang was one of dozens of Indian academics named in a crowdsourced list in late October 2017 inspired by the #MeToo movement, which was compiled from partly-anonymous complaints, alleging sexual harassment in academia.

We have reached out to Liang, who declined to comment because he said he was bound by confidentiality.

Update 20:30: Liang has made the following statement:

The Committee for Prevention of Sexual Harassment (CPSH) at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD) has conducted proceedings in which I was the defendant. The CPSH has given a report and made certain recommendations. This is only one part of the process provided by the CPSH rules. Those rules provide that both/either party can appeal the recommendations. I informed the CPSH and AUD of my intention to appeal immediately on receipt of the report.

I have not commented so far on the matter because of CPSH confidentiality rules. I can, and must, however, say this – 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 demonize, cause a media trial, and proclaim guilt in advance.

I am passionately committed to AUD, and have worked hard to build the school that I am a part of, and I intend to exhaust every channel open to me to clear my name.

The committee in its report dated 20 February recommended “penal action” against Liang and that he relinquish his administrative duties, according to Asia Times.

However, it stopped short of suspending him, only recommending, according to the Times, which has access to a copy of the report:

that the university issue “a warning letter” saying he would face serious consequences including “suspension from service” if there were any more complaints. The probe noted that Liang was in a position with “a large number of students and faculty under his care.”

It is understood that Liang will be filing an appeal against the committee’s findings.

The original complaint against Liang had been filed on 10 October 2017, had said that he had initiated unwanted kisses with the complainant in April 2015, while she was in Delhi for a conference, and in September 2017.

The committee also looked into an “incident with the intern” that allegedly took place at ALF, though the Asia Times report does not elaborate further.

Liang is a 1998 NLSIU Bangalore graduate, who has founded the influential human rights organisation Alternative Law Forum that aims to provide access to justice to marginalised communities, and is a prominent supporter of free speech and open source software.

In 2014, he filed a semi-serious legal notice on Penguin to surrender its copyright in Wendy Doniger’s The Hindu’s, after Penguin chickened out of fighting a fringe religious group’s case to ban it.

He also holds a Master's from Warwick following a Chevening Scholarship, and had also been awarded a Hughes Fellowship in 2014, and was Rice Visiting Scholar at Yale University between 2016-17, according to Wikipedia.

In November 2017, he had been awarded the prestigious Infosys Prize in social sciences, “in recognition of his creative scholarship on law and society:

His prodigious output in the fields of copyright law, digital technologies and media, and popular culture consistently raises probing questions about the nature of freedom, rights, and social development. His provocative answers link historical context and ethical practice in unexpected and illuminating ways.

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