The fear among citizens remains even as over one year has passed since the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued guidelines for the protection of Good Samaritans, as per Supreme Court's directions.
The death of a 32-year-old accident victim in Delhi’s Subhash Nagar area today due to negligence of the passers-by, has once again highlighted how people often try not to save lives of such victims. Though insensitivity can be said to be one of the reasons for this, the major reason is the fear of harassment they may face at the hands of police if they volunteer to help any accident victim. The fear among citizens remains even as over a year has passed since the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued guidelines for the protection of Good Samaritans, as per Supreme Court’s directions.
The guidelines were later approved by the Supreme Court and published in the Gazette of India para 1 of Section 1 of the notification dated May 12, 2015. Even as road accidents are dealt under the provisions of criminal law of the country, you don’t become a criminal by doing a Good Samaritan’s job. The guidelines clearly directs all hospitals, police and other authorities that “a bystander or good Samaritan including an eyewitness of a road accident may take an injured person to the nearest hospital, and the bystander or good Samaritan should be allowed to leave immediately except after furnishing address by the eyewitness only and no question shall be asked to such bystander or good Samaritan.” Not only this, it also directs the authorities that the Good Samaritans be “suitably rewarded or compensated” so that other citizens can come forward and help those in distress.
Here are the all the guidelines supporting Good Samaritans.
1. A bystander or good Samaritan including an eyewitness of a road accident may take an injured person to the nearest hospital, and the bystander or good Samaritan should be allowed to leave immediately except after furnishing address by the eyewitness only and no question shall be asked to such bystander or good Samaritan.
2. The bystander or good Samaritan shall be suitably rewarded or compensated to encourage other citizens to come forward to held the road accident victims by the authorities in the manner as may be specified by the State Governments.
3.The bystander of good Samaritan shall not be liable for any civil and criminal liability.
4. A bystander or good Samaritan, who makes a phone call to inform the police or emergency services for the person lying injured on the road, shall not be compelled to reveal his name and personal details on the phone or in person.
5. The disclosure of personal information, such as name and contact details of the good Samaritan shall be made voluntary and optional including in the Medico Legal Case (MLC) Form provided by hospitals.
6. The disciplinary or departmental action shall be initiated by the Government concerned against public officials who coerce or intimidate a bystander or good Samaritan for revealing his name or personal details.
7. In case a bystander or good Samaritan, who has voluntarily stated that he is also an eye-witness to the accident and is required to be examined for the purposes of investigation by the police or during the trial, such bystander or good Samaritan shall be examined on a single occasion and the State Government shall develop standard operating procedures to ensure that bystander or good Samaritan is not harassed or intimated.
8. The methods of examination may either be by way of a commission under section 284, of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 or formally on affidavit as per section 296, of the said Code and Standard Operating Procedure shall be developed within a period of thirty days from the date when this notification is issued.
9. Video conferencing may be used extensively during examination of bystander or good Samaritan including the persons referred to in guideline (1) above, who are eye witness in order to prevent harassment and inconvenience to good Samaritans.
10. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall issue guidelines stating that all registered public and private hospitals are not to detain bystander or good Samaritan or demand payment for registration and admission costs, unless the good Samaritan is a family member or relative of the injured and the injured is to be treated immediately in pursuance of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Pt. Parmanand Katara Vs Union of India & Ors  4 SCC 286.
11. Lack of response by a doctor in an emergency situation pertaining to road accidents, where he is expected to provide care, shall constitute “Professional Misconduct”, under Chapter 7 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002 and disciplinary action shall be taken against such doctor under Chapter 8 of the said Regulations.
12. All hospitals shall publish a charter in Hindi, English and the vernacular language of the State of Union territory at their entrance to the effect that they shall not detain bystander or good Samaritan or ask depositing money from them for the treatment of a victim.
13. In case a bystander or good Samaritan so desires, the hospital shall provide and acknowledgement to such good Samaritan, confirming that an injured person was brought to the hospital and the time and place of such occurrence and the acknowledgement may be prepared in a standard format by the State Government and disseminated to all hospitals in the State for incentivising the bystander or good Samaritan as deemed fit by the State Government.
14. All public and private hospitals shall implement these guidelines immediately and in case of noncompliance or violation of these guidelines appropriate action shall be taken by the concerned authorities.
15. A letter containing these guidelines shall be issued by the Central Government and the State Government to all Hospitals and Institutes under their respective jurisdiction, enclosing a Gazette copy of the notification and ensure compliance and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways shall publish advertisements in all national and one regional newspaper indulging electronic media informing the general public of these guidelines.
So bring out the Good Samaritans in you, help others, don’t be afraid.