Protection of Good Samaritans in accident cases: SC

Ipsita Mishra

People race against time driving through packed city roads with horns on. Speed barriers and traffic rules hardly matter now a days and the result is accidents. The courts tend to adopt a generous attitude to good Samaritans and, in such a case, would take into account the emergency nature of the situation and attendant circumstances – including the skills of the Good Samaritan – in determining whether the actions of the Good Samaritan were reasonable. Good Samaritans are protected under civil liability in common law jurisdictions.

The Supreme Court has decided to give protection to good Samaritans rendering assistance to accident victims. Suggestions have been taken from the National Highways Authority of India, government and others for framing guidelines. It is implementation and not insufficiency of law that is the matter of concern. Different guidelines like emergency care, handling trauma patients, correct directions to hospitals on the highways etc are not implemented although issued. Save Life Foundation, NGO, filed a public interest writ petition demanding that the person helping to bring the victim to hospital should not be compelled to visit police station neither his identity should be revealed. He should not be pestered to become a witness or join investigation even. However according to Additional Solicitor General, this plea would require an amendment to laws which only the legislature could bring in and any directions towards the same is beyond the provisions of the law. Justice Swatanter Kumar told the ASG that merely laying the road is not enough and NHAI needs to play an active role. Counsel for the parties said an expert committee would need to be constituted to monitor compliance with various directions and safeguards which will help the passers-by and informants in and in expeditious disposal of criminal cases.  They told the court that they would come out with joint suggestions. The Bench said this aspect will be examined by counsel appearing for the parties who are to submit the joint suggestions.”