Survivor of child sexual abuse can report crime at any age: Maneka Gandhi
NEW DELHI, October 8: Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said there is no time limit in law for reporting child sexual abuse. Calling upon the law ministry to “ratify” the same, she has said that the statutes of limitation does not apply to child sexual abuse cases as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012, the overriding law in cases pertaining to children, does not lay down a time frame.
For many months the WCD ministry has been sharing views that it wants the statute of limitations to be eased for child sexual abuse cases. However now the ministry has concluded the there is “no limitation” and wants this to put out by the law ministry in as many words.
Citing a scrutiny of legal provisions conducted by her ministry, Gandhi has written to law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to ratify the legal position as it stands to enable survivors to report crimes anytime after the offence has happened.
“We are of the view that cases of child sexual abuse can be reported by the victim at anytime and the law enforcement agencies would be required to take appropriate action on complaint of such victims, Gandhi has said. The WCD minister wants law ministry to ratify this.
“Various studies have shown that the incidence of sexual abuse of children is fairly high. Most children are unable to report such crimes as the perpetrator in most cases is either a family member, relative or a closely known person,” Gandhi has pointed. She goes on to say that studies have also shown that the child continues to carry the trauma of sexual abuse till very late.
“In order to overcome this trauma many grown-up people have started coming out to report the abuse faced by them as children. This is a welcome step because it helps them to overcome their pain,” she has emphasized.
It is pointed that as these incidents of reporting child sexual abuse become more frequent there is an opinion expressed by some that such cases should be subjected to the usual period of limitation applicable to criminal laws.
Gandhi in her letter states that this matter and the various views have been discussed within her ministry.
She then goes on to explain the reasons why her ministry has reached the conclusion that there is need to ratify the fact that there is no limitation on the time frame in law to report child sexual abuse.
It is pointed that child sexual abuse gets covered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 “which has overriding provisions over other criminal laws”. “POCSO Act does not provide for any period of limitation for reporting the sexual offences. In fact, section 19 of the Act makes it mandatory for any person, including the victim, to report such offences,” it is stated in the letter. The period of limitation for criminal offences is covered under section 467-473 of CrPC 1973.
It is also stated that section 468 provides a maximum period of limitation of three years for offences punishable with imprisonment of not more than three years. This means that offences with higher punishment (heinous crimes) are not covered by the period of limitation under CrPC. (Agencies)