Reporting a road accident to police or taking a victim to hospital will no longer be a harrowing experience for good samaritans.
A Central government notification that provides protection to witnesses in accident cases will soon become the law of the land with the Supreme Court on Friday saying it will incorporate the guidelines in a judicial order so that all states are bound by it.
The move is expected to save the lives of hundreds of road accident victims in the country as people often avoid helping them fearing harassment later by police and other law enforcing agencies.
On May 12, 2015 the ministry of road transport and highways issued a notification after the SC asked it to come out with suitable guidelines to prevent harassment of good samaritans.
The order came on a PIL filed by an NGO, Savelife Foundation, which said more than 4 lakh road accidents took place in 2014. The number of deaths also increased from 1.37 lakh in 2013 to 1.39 lakh in 2014.
Once implemented, a bystander including an eyewitness to a road mishap shall be allowed to leave immediately after taking the injured to the nearest hospital without furnishing his address. The police cannot compel people to reveal their identity even if he is the informer or complainant in the case. The person can give his or her name voluntarily.
Besides, no police official shall ask him any questions and he would be later given a choice to record his statement before the court through video conferencing. Departmental or disciplinary action shall be initiated against the officer who coerces or intimidates the informer. If the witness volunteers to go before the court to depose in the case, the trial judge shall complete his examination in one sitting.
Additional solicitor general Pinky Anand submitted that it was not possible for the Centre to issue a mandate to the states. Under the Indian Constitution, law and order is a state subject.
The judicial order will also incorporate the Centre’s guidelines stating that all registered public and private hospitals will not detain a good samaritan or demand payment for registration and admission costs.