The Supreme Court in early October 2014 has directed the central government to issue an executive order to protect good samaritans who helped injured persons on the road, from legal and procedural hassles in the hands of the police, hospitals and legal entities. The Apex Court has paved the way for a strong guideline that will protect those who help road accident victims. There will be no more harassment by policemen and no pressure to disclose your personal information.
“We direct the Ministry (Road Transport and Highways) in consultation with Law Ministry to issue necessary directions with regard to the protection of Good Samaritans until appropriate legislation is made by the legislature”, said the apex court bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman.
The Skandan committee, which made initial recommendations says good samaritans should be exempted from civil and criminal liability. It says that they cannot be forced to reveal name and personal details on phone or in person. It also says that states must develop procedures to protect good samaritans, who are eyewitnesses, from harassment.
It adds that any doctor refusing to treat road accident victims should face disciplinary action as per the norms laid down under the Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines. The MCI and the Ministry of Health will issue norms to hospitals on admitting accident victims, specifying that those accompanying them should not be detained or asked to pay fees. Hospitals, which don’t comply, could have their licences revoked.
The SaveLIFE Foundation said that according to a national study conducted by it, 3 out of 4 people in India are unlikely to step forward to help a road crash victim because of the fear of prolonged legal formalities, police harassment and detention at hospitals deter most bystanders from coming forward.
The government has three months to implement its order.
With inputs from TOI, IE, BS, SC judgment.