Himmat is a pro bono initiative founded by students of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Megha Rana and Sreeja Sengupta. The objective behind the initiative is to provide legal awareness regarding anti-sexual sexual harassment law in universities and colleges and also to provide legal assistance to survivors to tackle Internal Committee (IC) proceedings. Their website contains information required to pursue an IC complaint, information on how to file a complaint, tips on submitting evidence, and the recourse available to a survivor. They also provide free legal assistance by connecting survivors to experienced practitioners in the field to answer any queries that they may have. Read more about their work on our previous post available here.
Himmat Handbook: What is it?
In furtherance of their aim of spreading awareness, Himmat has launched a free and comprehensive handbook on the UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations 2015. This handbook provides a clear overview of the legal framework and redressal mechanisms available to college-going students in a clear and simple manner and is supported by necessary case laws.
It has been written by Himmat’s research wing that includes students from top law schools across India including NLSIU and NUJS and has a foreword authored by renowned women’s rights advocate, Veena Gowda. In the words of Advocate Gowda, “the Himmat Handbook is a much-needed intervention to boost education and awareness by giving a definitive vocabulary to the various kinds of sexual harassment faced at higher educational institutions by students, (which includes males, females and third gender) and women employees or a third party.”
The Handbook can be freely accessed here.
Lawctopus is proud to be the logo partner for this handbook alongside SASHA and Trustin.
What Does it Cover?
The Handbook is divided into four parts. The first part deals with the concept of sexual harassment in Higher Educational Institutions. It explains the concept of “sexual harassment”, “aggrieved person” and “campus” as per the regulations. In particular, it focuses on what constitutes sexual harassment, by describing the importance of consent through various illustrations.
The second part of the Handbook deals with remedies available to survivors, and explains the things to keep in mind while filing a complaint. It explains the two remedies available through the Internal Committee: inquiry and conciliation. It also sheds light on the composition of an IC and how members are to be appointed.
The third part of the Handbook explains the process of conciliation and inquiry. It describes the various stages of an inquiry and the steps to be followed by an Internal Committee. It further emphasises the confidentiality of the process, and the circumstances under which a complainant can maintain anonymity. Additionally, it discusses interim relief and protection measures, and through examples explains when this intervention can be evoked. Finally, it discusses the appeal mechanism available to challenge the outcome of any inquiry, and the grounds on which these appeals can be filed.
The fourth part of the Handbook elaborates upon the responsibility of the Executive Authority of a Higher Educational Institution to properly constitute an IC, and examples of when an IC is improperly constituted. Further, it highlights certain groups that are especially vulnerable to harassment. Finally, it concludes by explaining the various obligations of the institution, and the recourse available if these obligations are not fulfilled.