The Supreme Court has passed a judgment dated 30-03-2016 in the case of Save Life Foundation and another Vs Union of India and another in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 235/2012 vide its order dated 29th October 2014 regarding Good Samaritans, i.e. bystanders and passers-by who render help to the victims of road accidents. The Court has ruled that the affidavit of Good Samaritan, if filed, shall be treated as complete statement by the Police official while conducting the investigation. In case statement is to be recorded, complete statement shall be recorded in a single examination. Besides, the trial court shall not normally insist on appearance of Good Samaritans.
In this regard, Notification dated 12-05-2015 for protection of Good Samaritan issued by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) is available at Link http://taxguru.in/corporate-law/road-accident-guidelines-hospitals-police-good-samaritans-protection.html and Standard Operating Procedure for the examination of Good Samaritans by the Police or during trial dated 21-01-2016 issued by MoRTH is reproduced below:-
MINISTRY OF ROAD TRANSPORT AND HIGHWAYS
New Delhi, the 21 st January, 2016
No. RT-25035/101/2014-RS.—Whereas, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Save Life Foundation and another Vs Union of India and another in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 235/2012 vide its order dated 29th October 2014, inter-alia, directed to issue necessary directions with regard to the protection of Good Samaritans until appropriate legislation is made by the Union Legislature;
And whereas, the Central Government published the guidelines in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part I, Section I dated 12th May 2015 for protection of the Good Samaritans, i.e. a person who is a bystander or a passer-by, who chooses to assist an injured person or a person in distress on the road;
And whereas, as per para 1 (7) and (8) of the said guidelines dated 12th May, 2015, Standard Operating Procedures are to be framed for the examination of Good Samaritans by the Police or during trial;
And whereas, the Central Government considers it necessary to issue Standard Operating Procedure for the examination of Good Samaritans by the Police or during trial and here by issue the following standard operating procedure, namely:—
1. The Good Samaritan shall be treated respectfully and without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality, caste or any other grounds.
2. Any person who makes a phone call to the Police control room or Police station to give information about any accidental injury or death, except an eyewitness may not reveal personal details such as full name, address, phone number etc.
3. Any Police official, on arrival at the scene, shall not compel the Good Samaritan to disclose his / her name, identity. address and other such details in the Record Form or Log Register.
4. Any Police official or any other person shall not force any Good Samaritan who helps an injured person to become a witness in the matter. The option of becoming a witness in the matter shall solely rest with the Good Samaritan.
5. The concerned Police official(s) shall allow the Good Samaritan to leave after having informed the Police about an injured person on the road, and no further questions shall be asked if the Good Samaritan does not desire to be a witness in the matter.
2. Examination of Good Samaritan by the Police
I. In case a Good Samaritan so chooses to be a witness, he shall be examined with utmost care and respect and without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality, caste or any other grounds.
2. In case a Good Samaritan chooses to be a witness, his examination by the investigating officer shall, as far as possible. be conducted at a time and place of his convenience such as his place of residence or business, and the investigation officer shall be dressed in plain clothes, unless the Good Samaritan chooses to visit the police station.
3. Where the examination of the Good Samaritan is not possible to be conducted at a time and place of his convenience and the Good Samaritan is required by the Investigation Officer to visit the police station, the reasons for the same shall be recorded by such officer in writing.
4. In case a Good Samaritan so chooses to visit the Police Station, he shall be examined in a single examination in a reasonable and time-bound manner, without causing any undue delay.
5. In case the Good Samaritan speaks a language other than the language of the Investigating Officer or the local language of the respective jurisdiction, the Investigating Officer shall arrange for an interpreter.
6. Where a Good Samaritan declares himself to be an eye-witness, he shall be allowed to give his evidence on affidavit, in accordance with section 296 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) which refers to Evidence in Formal Character on Affidavit.
7. The complete statement or affidavit of such Good Samaritan shall be recorded by the Police official while conducting the investigation in a single examination.
8. In case the attendance of the Good Samaritan cannot be procured without delay, expense or inconvenience which, under the circumstances of the case, would be unreasonable, or his examination is unable to take place at a time and place of his convenience, the Court of Magistrate may appoint a commission for the examination of the Good Samaritan in accordance with section 284 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) on an application by the concerned.
3. The Superintendent of Police or Deputy Commissioner of Police or any other Police official of corresponding seniority heading the Police force of a District, as the case may be, shall be responsible to ensure that all the above mentioned procedures are implemented throughout their respective jurisdictions with immediate effect.
ABHAY DAMLE, Jt. Secy.