Centre notifies Good Samaritan SOPs

They are meant to encourage witnesses to report accident cases to police without fear

In a move that could go a long way in encouraging witnesses to report accidents to the police, the Centre issued a notification on Monday ensuring that the affidavit of “Good Samaritan”, a person who voluntarily declares himself to be an eyewitness, shall be treated by the investigating officer as a final statement.

The notification is in response to Supreme Court directions in an October 2014 case of SaveLIFE Foundation asking the Centre to issue directions to save Good Samaritans until Parliament frames a law.

“The affidavit of Good Samaritan, if filed, shall be treated as a complete statement by the police official while conducting the investigation. In case, the statement is to be recorded, the complete statement shall be recorded in a single examination,” the notification added.

The court had directed the government to frame Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the examination of a Good Samaritan. In March, the court approved the guidelines and the SOPs issued by the government with certain modifications.

The crux of the guidelines is that no bystander rushing to the rescue of an accident victim should be subject to civil or criminal liability and/or be forced to be a witness. Any disclosure of personal information or offer to be a witness, in the event of the Good Samaritan also being an eyewitness to an accident, ought to be voluntary. Further, the examination of such a volunteer as a witness shall be done only on a single occasion and without harassment or intimidation.

Last week, in two incidents, a police constable and a civilian bled to death on the roads of Delhi as people looked on. In one case, the constable was shot by goons he took on. The witnesses and passers-by chose not to call for help for fear of consequences.

The notification said the SOPs as laid down by the court under Article 32 (right to constitutional remedies), read with Article 142, is binding on the Union Territories and the States.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 1:03:41 PM |

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