Citizens' Issues
Now, Good Samaritans can help victims without the worry of harassment
On 21 January 2016, the Ministry for Road Transport and Highways notified a Standard Operating Procedure for the manner in which Good Samaritans must be treated by the police and the courts during the investigation of an accident case, or the trial 
 
Accident victims lying unattended to on roads during to the ‘Golden Hour’, which could save their lives, are a common phenomenon. The biggest and the most unfortunate obstacle for people to help accident victims on roads or those from physical assaults in public places is the fear of harassment by the police afterwards. Hence, good Samaritans are far and few in our country. 
 
Earlier on 29 October 2014, the Supreme Court, in a writ petition filed by the Save Life Foundation ordered authorities to make required rules and regulations in this regard. Accordingly, the central government published guidelines on 12 May 2015 and promised to put in place, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for protection of good Samaritans from the police and during judicial trial. The doctors as well as the hospital management has also been directed not to harass such good Samaritans for paying money for treatment when they admit victims to hospitals 
 
Recently, on 21 January 2016, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued a notification on the SOP. The SOP makes it mandatory for the police to treat a Good Samaritan with ‘respect’, and allow the privilege not to divulge personal details, to not compel him or her to disclose his or her identity, and no further interrogation should be conducted on the Good Samaritan, if he or she wishes not to. 
 
Following are the SOP rules:
  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 the Police station to give information about any accidental injury or death, except an eyewitness may not reveal personal details such as full name, address, and phone number.
  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.
 
Examination of Good Samaritan by the Police
 
  1.  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.
 
 
The notification on 12 May 2015 is very encouraging news for Good Samaritans. It goes as follows:
  1.  A bystander or Good Samaritan including an eyewitness of a road accident may take an injured person to the nearest hospital, and the bystander or Good Samaritan should be allowed to leave immediately except after furnishing address by the eyewitness only and no question shall be asked to such bystander or Good Samaritan.
  2.  The bystander or Good Samaritan shall be suitably rewarded or compensated to encourage other citizens to come forward to help road accident victims by the authorities in the manner as may be specified by the State Governments.
  3.  The bystander or Good Samaritan shall not be liable for any civil and criminal liability.
  4.  A bystander or Good Samaritan, who makes a phone call to inform the police or emergency services for the person lying injured on the road, shall not be compelled to reveal his name and personal details on the phone or in person.
  5.  The disclosure of personal information, such as name and contact details of the Good Samaritan shall be made voluntary and optional including in the Medico Legal Case (MLC) Form provided by hospitals.
  6.  The disciplinary or departmental action shall be initiated by the Government concerned against public officials who coerce or intimidate a bystander or Good Samaritan for revealing his name or personal details.
  7.  In case a bystander or good Samaritan, who has voluntarily stated that he is also an eye-witness to the accident and is required to be examined for the purposes of investigation by the police or during the trial, such bystander or good Samaritan shall be examined on a single occasion and the State Government shall develop standard operating procedures to ensure that bystander or Good Samaritan is not harassed or intimidated.
  8.  The methods of examination may either be by way of a commission under section 284, of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 or formally on affidavit as per section 296, of the said Code and Standard Operating Procedures shall be developed within a period of thirty days from the date when this notification is issued.
  9.  Video conferencing may be used extensively during examination of bystander or Good Samaritan including the persons referred to in guideline (1) above, who are eye witnesses in order to prevent harassment and inconvenience to Good Samaritans.

    Notification for Hospitals
     
  10.  The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall issue guidelines stating that all registered public and private hospitals are not to detain bystander or Good Samaritan or demand payment for registration and admission costs, unless the Good Samaritan is a family member or relative of the injured and the injured is to be treated immediately in pursuance of the order of the Supreme Court in Pt. Parmanand Katara vs Union of India & Ors [1989] 4 SCC 286.
  11.  Lack of response by a doctor in an emergency situation pertaining to road accidents, where he is expected to provide care, shall constitute “Professional Misconduct”, under Chapter 7 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002 and disciplinary action shall be taken against such doctor under Chapter 8 of the said Regulations.
  12.  All hospitals shall publish a charter in Hindi, English and the vernacular language of the State or Union 4 THE GAZETTE OF INDIA: EXTRAORDINARY [PART I—SEC. 1] territory at their entrance to the effect that they shall not detain bystander or Good Samaritan or ask depositing money from them for the treatment of a victim.
  13.  In case a bystander or Good Samaritan so desires, the hospital shall provide an acknowledgement to such Good Samaritan, confirming that an injured person was brought to the hospital and the time and place of such occurrence and the acknowledgement may be prepared in a standard format by the State Government and disseminated to all hospitals in the State for incentivising the bystander or good Samaritan as deemed fit by the State Government.
  14.  All public and private hospitals shall implement these guidelines immediately and in case of non-compliance or violation of these guidelines, appropriate action shall be taken by the concerned authorities.
 
Let us hope this drops the apathy of bystanders and passers-by, who tend to ignore help by accident victims, who often are struggling between life and death.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, and also convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book "To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte" with Vinita Kamte and is the author of "The Mighty Fall".)

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COMMENTS

Bapoo Malcolm

1 year ago

Readers may like to visit a few issues back and read, "When Good Samaritans get Bad Luck". Surprising how many points made in Moneylife soon see the light of day.

Keep it up.

YES Bank to install water purifiers at 1,000 railway stations
Mumbai : In a unique public-private-initiative (PPP), YES Bank has collaborated with Indian Railways to provide community water purification systems at 1,000 railway stations across India by 2019, an official said here on Friday.
 
The project will see the bank install the systems at 100 D and E category railway stations in Maharashtra's Konkan coastal belt and other parts of the state by next month (March), said Yes Bank Group President and Country Head Namita Vikas.
 
"It has already been installed at around 50 stations in Konkan region and more are being rolled out at smaller stations with an average footfall of 1,000 pax per day providing them with clean and safe drinking water," Vikas said.
 
The project boasts of no reject water and minimal electricity consumption for water purification thus reinforcing the bank's sustainability focus for the mega-initiative, she added.
 
Explaining the concept, Vikas said the bigger railway stations have water sellers and the passengers or commuters using them are economically better off compared to D and E category stations.
 
Targetted at the population in the lower strata, YES Bank provided access to safe and clean drinking water to around 62,500 people through household and community purification systems in rural Maharashtra last year, she said.
 
The initiative is in sync with the Centre's vision to make safe and clean drinking water available to rail passengers and modernise railway stations.
 
"Our aim is to aid the existing efforts undertaken by the government and ensure a high socio-economic impact through community-led interventions," Vikas said.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Subramani P K

1 year ago

Good gesture. Many others can follow & make protected water supply available to public not only in railway stations but in many other public places like bus station, schools, places of prayer etc.

Jet Airways suspends cabin crew for Sonu Nigam's in-flight singing
Mumbai : Airline major Jet Airways said on Friday that it has suspended the five-member cabin crew of its January 4 Jodhpur-Mumbai flight for allowing celebrated singer Sonu Nigam to use the in-flight announcement system to entertain his fellow passengers.
 
"All cabin crew on the flight have been taken off from flight duty for enquiry and corrective training to reinforce strict adherence to operating procedures," said a Jet Airways spokesperson. 
 
According to aviation safety experts, the unauthorised use of any aircraft system by passengers is a recipe for disaster. 
 
"This is a vital information system, which is used by the crew to alert and inform passengers about major safety related procedures, weather and issuing of turbulence warnings," Kanu Gohain, safety expert and ex-director general of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told IANS.
 
"If an emergency would have occurred at that time, then the crew would have lost valuable time in informing passengers. This (concert) also diverts the attention of the crew from other duties," elaborated Gohain, who was the DGCA Chief from April 2006 till 2008.
 
Sources in the aviation watchdog said an enquiry has been initiated into the event. 
 
"There has been a lapse in discharging of crew duty. If found guilty then there (cabin crew's) licenses can be repealed and they would not be eligible to work with any airlines," Gohain added.
 
Cabin crew have to take a DGCA examination which is partly based on safety and emergency procedures (SEPs) and in-flight operation guidelines. 
 
Online videos uploaded by some passengers show Sonu, dressed casually in a t-shirt and jeans, leaning against a bulkhead as he sings two of his popular songs from the films "Veer Zaara" and "Refugee".
 
Sonu has termed as "real intolerance" the Jet Airways' decision.
 
"I have witnessed an elaborate fashion show in an aircraft. I have heard of small concerts happening in an aircraft. I have seen pilots and crew members cracking humorous jokes to loosen up passengers in other countries, which is so cool," Sonu told IANS via a text message. 
 
“To suspend crew members for asking me to sing on the address system, when the seat belt signs were off, and no announcements were to be made, is nothing less than punishing someone for spreading happiness. 
 
“Pity there's no one to question such harshness except the media perhaps. Indians, need to loosen up. This act of lack of common Sense, according to me, is real intolerance.”
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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