Good Samaritan Law provides legal assistance to those people who help save road accident victims by reporting the accident to the police or by helping the victim reach to the hospital. Often it is seen that the helper is wrongly accused and harassed by the police personnel as the perpetrator of crime. It is in these situations that police authorities are required to follow certain guidelines and regulations while dealing with a good Samaritan or witness of the accident.
According to the Law Commission of India, 50 per cent of road accident deaths could be saved if immediate assistance is provided. As per a study conducted by the SaveLIFE foundation (which filed a PIL for the enactment of Good Samaritan Law in India), 3 out of 4 people hesitate to help a road accident victim and 88 per cent out of these cite unwarranted police harassment and questioning.
The Supreme Court in March 2016 approved the guidelines issued by the Centre for enacting Good Samaritan Law. It is sad to know that till now majority of the population has not been sensitized about this law. Even more saddening to know is that many police chaukis are not aware of such law. Following action steps can be taken by relevant authorities:
- Since police is now the most evident hurdle in enactment of law, police chaukis on roadways should be sensitized about such provisions.
- Provision for appraisal and reward for those who save accident victims
- Sensitizing through TV advertisements, social media, Mann ki Baat, etc.
- Integrating Duty to Rescue with Good Samaritan Law
- Toll-free helpline numbers to nearby hospitals on highways for immediate response. Dedicated division for handling such emergency cases
- Signboards and posters on National and State Highways especially in the accident-prone areas
- Making sure that Police Stations follow SOPs and government guidelines, eg. not forcing the Good Samaritan to disclose her/his name, limiting the witnesses’ visits to police stations, treating the witness with dignity