Friday, 1 April 2016

IMA welcomes the honorable Supreme Court’s guidelines to protect Good Samaritans

IMA welcomes the honorable Supreme Court’s guidelines to protect Good Samaritans New Delhi, March 31, 2016: The Supreme Court has approved the Centre's guidelines to protect Good Samaritans, who help road accident victims, from being unnecessarily harassed by police or any other authority. Good Samaritans will also be exempted from any criminal and civil liability. A bench comprising justices V Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra asked the Central government to give wide publicity to these guidelines. The bench also took on record the guidelines placed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, which were based on the recommendations of the three-member committee headed by former judge K S Radhakrishnan. The 2014 committee had given 12 major recommendations including setting up of State Road Safety Councils, evolving a protocol for identification of black spots, their removal and monitoring to see the effectiveness of the action taken and strengthening of enforcement relating to drunken driving, over-speeding, red light jumping and helmet or seat belt laws. With the court’s approval, the government guidelines are law of the land today and a binding to all states. According to the accepted guidelines, 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. Police cannot compel people to reveal their identity even if they are the informers or complainants in the case. The person can give his or her name voluntarily. Speaking about the same, Dr SS Aggarwal – National President IMA & Padma Shri Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal – Honorary Secretary General IMA & President HCFI said, “Every hospital should put up the board as per the guidelines. They should not refuse a road traffic accident victim and immediately provide the first aid. If the victim cannot afford treatment, hospitals should provide the option of installments. Otherwise, the hospital should approach the state government for reimbursement. We got to know through a response to an RTI application filed to the Medical Council of India that if a victim was not able to pay the treatment cost, the state government should create a mechanism for reimbursement." The guidelines further add that all registered public and private hospitals will not detain a Good Samaritan or demand payment for registration and admission costs. 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. More than four 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. As per National Crime Records Bureau report, in the last decade, over 12 lakh people have lost their lives and 55 lakh seriously injured or permanently disabled. India stood first with highest number of road fatalities, as compares to China, Brazil, USA, Indonesia, Russia, Iran, Mexico, South Africa and Thailand. 50 per cent of the fatalities can be averted if victims are admitted to a hospital within the first one-hour post accident. A study by the Indian Journal of Surgery in 2012 says 80 per cent of road accident victims in India do not receive emergency medical care within the ‘golden hour’.

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