Expressing serious concern on the increasing number of road accidents, and the fact that the victims are unable to get immediate medical relief, the Supreme Court directed the Centre and State governments to frame proper rules and regulations.
A Bench of Justices Deepak Verma and K. S. Radhakrishnan gave this direction on Friday while directing Sanjeev Nanda to deposit Rs. 50 lakh with the Union government for providing relief to the victims of road accidents. Mr. Nanda was also asked to do two years of community service. The Bench expressed its belief that this incident “would be an eye-opener.”
Justice Radhakrishnan, in his judgment, pointed out that no legal obligation was cast on a bystander either under the Motor Vehicles Act or any other legislation.
The Bench said: “It is the duty of every citizen to help a motor accident victim, more so when one is the cause of the accident, or is involved in that particular accident. People don’t help accident victims due to want of awareness. But greater responsibility is cast on them. They are people present at the scene of the occurrence, and immediate medical attention may help the victims and their dear ones from unexpected catastrophe.
“Private and government hospitals, especially situated near the highway where traffic is high, should be equipped with all the facilities to meet with emergency situations. Ambulance with all medical facilities, including doctors and support staff should be ready, so that, in case of emergency, prompt medical attention is given.”
Pointing out that drunken driving had become a menace, thanks to the late-night parties of the urban elite, the Bench said: “Punishment meted out to a drunken driver, is at least a deterrent for other such persons getting away with minor punishment and fine. Such incidents are bound to increase with no safety for pedestrians on the roads.
“Section 134 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, casts a duty on a driver to take reasonable steps to secure medical attention for the injured persons. Situations may arise, in a highly charged atmosphere, or due to mob fury, [where] the driver may flee from the place, if there is a real danger to his life, but he cannot shirk his responsibility of informing the police or other authorised persons or good samaritans forthwith, so that human lives could be saved.”
Further, the Bench said passengers in the vehicle, which meets with an accident, have a duty to arrange medical attention for the victims. They have also equal responsibility to inform the police. “Failure to do so will mean they are aiding the crime and screening the offender from legal punishment.”