No time bar for reporting crimes under POCSO Act

Survivors of child sexual abuse will be able to file a police complaint when they are adults after the government clarified on Tuesday that there is no time bar on reporting such crimes. The clarity comes after the Law Ministry concurred with the opinion of the Ministry of Women and Child Development that unlike the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, doesn’t lay down a time limit for reporting crimes covered under it. “The Ministry of Law after examining the provisions of POCSO Act vis-à-vis provisions of CrPC has advised that there appears no period of limitation mentioned in Section 19 in regard to reporting of the offences under the POCSO Act, 2012,” according to a statement. This is an important step for survivors of child abuse who may wish to file a complaint as adults after years of trauma but are turned away at police stations “The announcement is going to make a difference to millions of survivors and I am optimistic that this will help reduce the levels of child sexual abuse,” said a 53-year-old Canadian scientist of Indian origin and a survivor who had written to Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi earlier this year seeking demystification of the language in the POCSO Act. However, she lamented that as POCSO is applicable only for crimes after its enactment in 2012, cases of historical child sexual abuse or those that pre-date the law will not find a closure. Section 19 of the POCSO Act lays down the procedure for reporting a crime but doesn’t specify a time limit or statute of limitation for reporting offences covered under it.

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