Standard Operating Procedures for the examination of Good Samaritans by the Police or during trial
On 21st January, 2016, the Union Ministry for Road Transport and Highways has notified a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) for the manner in which Good Samaritans should be treated by the police during the investigation of an accident case and courts during the trial in that case. Many accident victims are not able to make it to the hospital as the by-standers are afraid to get entangled in any legal issues which may subsequently arise. The guidelines makes it easy for an innocent bystander to provide assistance to victims of accidents without getting embroiled in legal hassles too much.
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued guidelines relating to the manner of treatment of people who are Good Samaritans or bystanders who help victims of road accidents. Earlier guidelines dated May 12, 2015 issued pursuant to the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Save Life Foundation & Anr. vs Union of India & Anr. [W.P.(C) 235/2012] are also given below.
MINISTRY OF ROAD TRANSPORT AND HIGHWAYS
New Delhi, the 21st January, 2016
No. RT-25035/101/2014-RS.—Whereas, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Save Life Foundation and another Vs Union of India and another in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 235/2012 vide its order dated 29th October 2014, inter-alia, directed to issue necessary directions with regard to the protection of Good Samaritans until appropriate legislation is made by the Union Legislature;
And whereas, the Central Government published the guidelines in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part I, Section I dated 12th May 2015 for protection of the Good Samaritans, i.e. a person who is a bystander or a passer-by, who chooses to assist an injured person or a person in distress on the road;
And whereas, as per para 1 (7) and (8) of the said guidelines dated 12th May, 2015, Standard Operating Procedures are to be framed for the examination of Good Samaritans by the Police or during trial;
And whereas, the Central Government considers it necessary to issue Standard Operating Procedure for the examination of Good Samaritans by the Police or during trial and here by issue the following standard operating procedure, namely:—
1. The Good Samaritan shall be treated respectfully and without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality, caste or any other grounds.
2. Any person who makes a phone call to the Police control room or Police station to give information about any accidental injury or death, except an eyewitness may not reveal personal details such as full name, address, phone number etc.
3. Any Police official, on arrival at the scene, shall not compel the Good Samaritan to disclose his / her name, identity, address and other such details in the Record Form or Log Register.
4. Any Police official or any other person shall not force any Good Samaritan who helps an injured person to become a witness in the matter. The option of becoming a witness in the matter shall solely rest with the Good Samaritan.
5. The concerned Police official(s) shall allow the Good Samaritan to leave after having informed the Police about an injured person on the road, and no further questions shall be asked if the Good Samaritan does not desire to be a witness in the matter.
2. Examination of Good Samaritan by the Police
1. In case a Good Samaritan so chooses to be a witness, he shall be examined with utmost care and respect and without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality, caste or any other grounds.
2. In case a Good Samaritan chooses to be a witness, his examination by the investigating officer shall, as far as possible, be conducted at a time and place of his convenience such as his place of residence or business, and the investigation officer shall be dressed in plain clothes, unless the Good Samaritan chooses to visit the police station.
3. Where the examination of the Good Samaritan is not possible to be conducted at a time and place of his convenience and the Good Samaritan is required by the Investigation Officer to visit the police station, the reasons for the same shall be recorded by such officer in writing.
4. In case a Good Samaritan so chooses to visit the Police Station, he shall be examined in a single examination in a reasonable and time-bound manner, without causing any undue delay.
5. In case the Good Samaritan speaks a language other than the language of the Investigating Officer or the local language of the respective jurisdiction, the Investigating Officer shall arrange for an interpreter.
6. Where a Good Samaritan declares himself to be an eye-witness, he shall be allowed to give his evidence on affidavit, in accordance with section 296 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) which refers to Evidence in Formal Character on Affidavit.
7. The complete statement or affidavit of such Good Samaritan shall be recorded by the Police official while conducting the investigation in a single examination.
8. In case the attendance of the Good Samaritan cannot be procured without delay, expense or inconvenience which, under the circumstances of the case, would be unreasonable, or his examination is unable to take place at a time and place of his convenience, the Court of Magistrate may appoint a commission for the examination of the Good Samaritan in accordance with section 284 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) on an application by the concerned.
3. The Superintendent of Police or Deputy Commissioner of Police or any other Police official of corresponding seniority heading the Police force of a District, as the case may be, shall be responsible to ensure that all the above mentioned procedures are implemented throughout their respective jurisdictions with immediate effect.
MINISTRY OF ROAD TRANSPORT AND HIGHWAYS
New Delhi, the 12th May, 2015
No. 25035/101/2014-RS.—Whereas the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Savelife Foundation and another V/s. Union Of India and another in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 235 of 2012 vide its order dated 29th October, 2014, interalia, directed the Central Government to issue necessary directions with regard to the protection of Good Samaritans until appropriate legislation is made by the Union Legislature;
And whereas, the Central Government considers it necessary to protect the Good Samaritans from harassment on the actions being taken by them to save the life of the road accident victims and, therefore, the Central Government hereby issues the following guidelines to be followed by hospitals, police and all other authorities for the protection of Good Samaritans, namely:-
1. (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 help the road accident victims by the authorities in the manner as may be specified by the State Governments.
(3) The bystander or 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 intimidated.
(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 Procedures 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 witnesses 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 or 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 an 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 this 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 including electronic media informing the general public of these guidelines.
2. The above guidelines in relation to protection of bystander or good Samaritan are without prejudice to the liability of the driver of a motor vehicle in the road accident, as specified undersection 134 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (59 of 1988).