The Supreme Court has sought suggestions from the government, the National Highways Authority of India and others for framing guidelines for protection of good Samaritans rendering assistance to accident victims.
A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar said on Friday: “It is not insufficiency of law but its implementation which is a matter of concern. Different guidelines including guidelines for an ambulance code, emergency care and appropriate directions to hospitals on the highways for handling trauma patients as a top priority are stated to have been issued” but were not being implemented.
The Bench was hearing a public interest writ petition filed by the Save Life Foundation seeking directions for protection of good Samaritans.
The petitioner 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.
Additional Solicitor General Siddarth Luthra, appearing for the Centre, said this plea would require an amendment to laws which only the legislature could bring in.
As for 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 ASG said, “any direction towards the same is beyond the provisions of law.”
Justice Swatanter Kumar said that as most of the accidents took place only on national highways the NHAI should play a more active role in helping accident victims. “Merely laying the road is not enough,” he told the ASG.
Counsel for the parties said an expert committee would need to be constituted to monitor compliance with various directions. They told the court that they would come out with joint suggestions in this regard after consulting the relevant Ministries and the NHAI.
Indu Malhotra, senior counsel appearing for the petitioner, said the joint suggestions should also include directions and safeguards that could be provided to passers-by or informants. “This will even help in expeditious disposal of criminal cases.”
The Bench said: “Let this aspect be also examined by counsel appearing for the parties who are to submit the joint suggestions.”
Further hearing has been posted to September 14.