The Supreme Court on Monday decided to appoint former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A.P. Shah to head a committee which has been deliberating on broad guidelines for protection of good Samaritans rendering assistance to accident victims.

The apex court also decided to include two retired IPS officers — D.R. Karthikeyan and B.L. Vohra — in the panel which will also suggest measures to provide timely help to road mishap victims in view of growing number of such causalities on the highways also.

A bench, comprising chief justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said Justice Shah will replace retired judge of the Delhi High Court V.S. Agrawal who has expressed his inability due to personal reasons to continue with the panel.

The committee headed by Justice Agrawal had already filed an interim report.

The bench said the new members will go through the interim report and other aspects for filing the final report.

The committee will also take into consideration various reports filed by state-owned expert departments on road safety, it said.

The court said the panel will consider the two petitions filed in this regard as the representation and analyse the suggestions made in them.

The bench had on October 4 said it will frame broad guidelines on the issue related to road safety and accidents as brought before it in two petitions, one filed by an NGO, Save Life Foundation, and another by an individual S. Rajasekaran.

The apex court had in December last year appointed Justice V.S. Agrawal to head the committee.

The committee also comprises secretaries of the union ministries of Home, Health, Road Transport and Law and Justice or their nominees.

The chief of AIIMS trauma centre, the Director General of Border Road Organisation, secretary of NGO Save Life Foundation and a nominee of St John Ambulance, an aid and ambulance wing of the Indian Red Cross, are also in the panel.

The PILs sought directions to the Centre to put in place a mechanism to provide quick medical help to road accident victims.

The petitioners said the identity of the person helping to bring the victim to hospital should not be revealed and he/she should not be compelled to visit the police station or appear as a witness in the court.

However, on the petitioner’s demand that “it shall be an option to a bona fide Good Samaritan to become a witness or refuse to do so and he shall not be compelled to become a witness or forced to join the investigation,” the Centre had in the earlier hearing said “any direction towards the same is beyond the provisions of law.”

Mr. Luthra had submitted the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has undertaken an awareness programmes and campaigns, including education for bystanders to assist victims of road accidents.

“NHAI is engaged in facilitating the provision of common emergency toll-free number for cases of road trauma and emergencies and setting up call centres to support it on the highways and providing ambulances for emergency trauma care in co-ordination with trauma care centres, staff training and medical audits.

“Issues such as speed checking (through cameras) at accident-prone areas, static weigh bridges to prevent overloading and hence accidents, data on speed, overweight vehicles to be shared with state police agencies are also being considered,” he had said.

He had said that with regard to ‘Good Samaritan’ laws, protection could not be granted to first-responder witnesses against disclosing their identity or refusing to cooperate by providing details as pleaded by the petitioner.

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