Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has said her ministry is considering a proposal to allow the victims of child sexual abuse to report the incident to police until they attain the age of 30.
Under Section 468 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, any offence, including child abuse, which can lead to a prison term of three years, has to be reported within three years of the incident.
Despite the fact that a section of the CrPC -- 473 -- says a court may take cognisance of an older case if it is in the ‘interest of justice’ or if the ‘delay has been properly explained’, victims of child sexual abuse face problems in registering a first information report once they are 18 or more.
Gandhi said her ministry has proposed that child sexual abuse victims be allowed to register complaints until they are 30.
“If you have been molested or hurt as a child, then currently you can report it within a number of years. We are thinking of asking home ministry to raise the age to 30,” she told reporters.
“When a person is grown up and if they want to complain, they should. We also have a register for sex offenders and there are 4.5 lakh names registered under it. We have their fingerprints, we have their details so if anything happens they are available to us,” she said.
Gandhi made the comments in response to a question on actor Tanushree Dutta's allegations of sexual misconduct against Nana Patekar during the shooting of a film 10 years ago.
Gandhi on Tuesday favoured a #MeTooIndia movement in India to encourage women to come forward to complain against sexual harassment.
She said it does not matter when a victim comes out with her complaint but it is important to hear her out.
Citing Harvey Weinstein, she said when the first victim came out and reported against the Hollywood film producer, people asked her all kinds of questions, including why she took so long to speak out.
“But I know when your body is abused, you remember it always. I don't care when the complaint is filed but action should be taken,” she added.
When asked about the accusations made by Dutta, the minister said harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.