The statute of limitations on rape cases is set to be extended as the House of Representatives (HoR) has unanimously endorsed a bill on amending some laws related to sexual violence.
As per the new statute of limitations in the bill, rape cases can be reported within three years of the victim completing 18 years if the victim is a minor, and within two years of the offense if the victim is an adult aged 18-70 years.
The existing statute of limitations requires that a rape case be filed within a year of the offense if the victim is an adult, and within a year of the victim completing 18 years if the victim is a minor.
Similarly, the newly-endorsed bill allows senior citizens above 70 years, intellectually disabled and differently abled people to report cases of rape within three years of the offense.
Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, chairman of the Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee of the HoR, had presented the bill along with a report on it in the HoR for approval earlier on Monday.
The committee’s meeting on Friday had unanimously decided to propose extending the statute of limitations in cases of sexual violence by making changes to some provisions in the National Penal (Code) Act, 2017.
The bill has also introduced provisions of fine along with imprisonment for the guilty in rape cases. The fine will be deposited in a relief fund for victims.
The bill has a provision of fining the guilty Rs 700,000 if the rape victim is a minor girl aged 10-14 years or below 10 years, or a woman above 70 years, or if she is fully disabled.
Similarly, the guilty will be fined Rs 500,000 if the victim is a girl aged 14-16 years or 16-18 years, and Rs 300,000 if the victim is a woman above 18 years.
The bill brought by the government had proposed half the minimum penalty given to the guilty for individuals who file false complaints or make false statements in rape cases. But the committee had removed the provision from the bill.
However, individuals filing false complaints or making false statements can still get a jail term of up to three months or a fine of up to Rs 5,000 or both as per the National Criminal Procedure (Code) Act, 2017.
The bill will now be sent to the National Assembly. It will then become a law once it is endorsed by the National Assembly within 60 days.
Calls to remove the statute of limitations on rape cases have intensified ever since a 24-year-old woman revealed through videos on social media a few months ago that she was raped in course of Miss Global International 2014, a beauty pageant, when she was 16.