Statute of limitations on dowry-related violence and deaths
Drafters should reject any timeframe that limits accountability for dowry-related violence or deaths. Demands for dowry, and the accompanying acts of violence, may be made before, during or after the marriage ceremony. Laws should not limit criminal liability to acts that take place within a specific time frame.
Drafters should ensure laws do not impose a statute of limitations for dowry deaths or dowry-related violence. Most jurisdictions do not impose a statute of limitations for crimes resulting in death, and some jurisdictions impose no statute of limitations for sex offenses or crimes of violence. (See: Criminal Statutes of Limitations, at 4)
Legislation should punish obstruction of justice. For example, perjury, conspiracy, bribery, violence, intimidation, threats, deception, destruction of or tampering with evidence or the body may all constitute acts to obstruct justice. (See: Section on Obstruction of Justice; Charles Doyle, Obstruction of Justice: An Abridged Overview of Related Federal Criminal Laws, 2007)
Example: Pakistan’s Code of Criminal Procedure requires police to investigate suicides, accidental and other deaths, and suspicious deaths.
174. Police to inquire to report in suicide, etc.: (1) The officer incharge of a police station or some other police officer specially empowered by the Provincial Government in that behalf, on receiving information that a person-
(a) has committed suicide, or
(b) has been killed by another, or by an animal, or by machinery, or by an accident, or
(c) has died under circumstances raising a reasonable suspicion that some other person has committed an offence, . .
shall immediately give intimation thereof to the nearest Magistrate empowered to hold (inquests and unless otherwise directed by any rule prescribed by the Provincial Government, shall proceed to the place where the body, of such deceased person is, and there, in the presence of two or more respectable inhabitants of the neighbourhood, shall make an investigation, and draw up a report of the apparent cause of death, describing such wounds, fractures, bruises and other marks of injury as may be found oil the body.and stating in what manner, or by what weapons- or instrument (if any), such marks appear to have been inflicted.
(2) The report shall be signed by such police officer and other persons, or by so many of them as concur therein, and shall be forthwith forwarded to the [concerned] Magistrate. (3) When there is any doubt regarding the cause of death or when for any other reason the police-officer considers it expedient so to do, the shall, subject to such rules as the Provincial Government may prescribe in this behalf, forward the body, with a view to its being examined, to the nearest Civil Surgeon, or other qualified medical man appointed in this behalf by the Provincial Government, if the state of the weather and the distance admits of its being so forwarded without of such putrefaction on the road as would render such examination useless.
Legislation should require bodies that are burned to be transported to an authorized medical officer for examination as to the actual cause of death. In the Indian case of Mulkah Raj v. Satish Kumar, AIR 1992 SC 1175: 1992(2) Crimes 130 (SC), the examining medical officer conducted a post-mortem examination of the victim’s body, 95 percent of which was covered in burns. Upon examination, the doctor determined that death was the result of asphyxia due to strangulation. The burns occurred after the victim died and indicated that the body had been drenched in kerosene.