Maneka urges speedy probe into sexual assault on women, kids

Maneka gandhi. PTI file photo.

Union Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD) Maneka Gandhi has urged state chief ministers to consider setting up a special cell for “quick and timely professional investigation” into cases of sexual assault on women and children.

In a letter to chief ministers of all states and Union Territory (UT) administrations, she urged “strict action” against the police officers who are found to be obstructing the investigation into such cases or “colluding” with the perpetrators of crimes.

The Union Minister also offered to help the states in establishing forensic laboratories, which can aid in the forensic analysis of evidence collected during the investigation of sexual crimes against children.

Her appeal comes amidst a growing nation-wide furore over a recent incident of gang-raping and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir and a case of rape against a BJP MLA in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh.

Last week, Gandhi promised that her ministry will propose an amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012 for handing down death penalty to the convicts of rape on children below 12 years, saying she was “deeply disturbed” by the rape case in Kathua and all the recent cases of rape on minors.

Deterrence the key

“A quick and timely professional investigation is the only method by which a potential offender can be deterred but this can be done only by the States as the police department is a State subject,” the WCD minister said in her letter.

She also requested them to issue instructions to their police officers to give “utmost priority” to complete the investigation of the cases of sexual offences against children, “strictly as per the timelines of the law.”

All police officers should be “re-trained” on various aspects of sexual offences, “particularly those related to collection and preservation of evidence,” she said.

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