A total of 4,69,882 people have been injured in road accidents in 2013 and 1,37,423 people have died in motor vehicle collisions. Many of these lives could have been saved, if they had received timely help. But due to the apathy of society many people just passed by people as they lay in critical conditions.
This apathy is mostly due to people being scared of police and legal proceedings hence hesitating to get victims the help they require.
Save LIFE Foundation to help good samaritans and bystanders in such situations filed a petition in 2012 and during the hearing of this petition the Supreme Court instructed the Government of India to pass guidelines that would encourage bystanders to help victims of accidents.
The guidelines which were finally notified on 13th May 2015 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways are as follows-
1. A Good Samaritan who takes an accident victim to a hospital will not be asked any questions and can leave immediately. He/she cannot be forced to stay unless they are an eyewitness in which case only their address can be noted.
2. A bystander for helping the accident victim could be rewarded by the State government so as to encourage others to come to the rescue of accident victims.
3. The Good Samaritan will NOT be held for any criminal or civil liability.
4. A bystander who calls the police or emergency service to the site of a road accident does not have to reveal his name or any other personal details on the phone or in person.
5. In the Medico Legal Forms which are provided by hospitals, it is optional for good Samaritans to submit their personal information.
6. Disciplinary or departmental action shall be taken against those officials who coerce a bystander for revealing his/her personal details.
7. If a bystander voluntarily states that he/she has been an eyewitness to the accident he/she can be examined as part of the investigation by police or during trial but this can be done only once, for which the State Government shall develop Standard Operating Procedures to ensure that the Good Samaritan is not harassed.
8. The examination can be done only under Section 284, of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 or formally on affidavit as per section 296 of the same Code. Standard Operating procedures developed specifically for this will have to be followed.
9. A Good Samaritan or the people referred to in the above point can be examined through video conferencing in order to protect him/her from harassment or any inconvenience.
10. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will issue guidelines which will prevent public and private hospitals to not detain bystanders or good Samaritans or ask them to pay for registration and admission costs unless he/she is a family member of the injured who has to be treated immediately.
11. If a doctor fails to act to help an accident victim when he is expected to provide care, his actions will be seen as “Professional Misconduct” as prescribed by the Indian Medical Council Regulation 2002 and disciplinary action will be taken against them.
12. All hospitals will put up a notice at their entrances in English, Hindi and the vernacular language of the State or Union Territory stating that no good Samaritan will be asked to provide his/her personal details or pay money for the admission of the victim.
13. If the Good Samaritan requires an acknowledgement to confirm that he/she has brought the injured person to the hospital with the details of time and place, the hospital shall oblige and the acknowledgement can be prepared in accordance to the format prescribed by the State government.
14. All public and private hospitals will immediately enforce the above guidelines, failure of which will lead to action being taken against them.
15. A letter with these guidelines shall be issued by the Central and State Government and will be circulated to all hospitals and institutions in their area. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways shall also publish advertisements in all national and regional newspapers including electronic media.
Recent surveys conducted and case studies have shown how hesitant people are to help victims but with the above guidelines we can hope that the number of deaths due to road accidents will be considerably reduced.
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