Citizens' Issues
When Good Samaritans Get Bad Luck
An obnoxious rule is corrected by a new law that should have come ages ago
 
‘G ood Samaritan’ is a biblical term. It has crept into common use and, for many, it means a person who helps others. But then, is a father, helping his child, a good Samaritan? Is a teacher, aiding her students, a good Samaritan?  Is Moneylife, assisting its readers with financial literacy, a good Samaritan? Or is this author, belting out these articles on law, seeking good Samaritan status?
 
Well, not exactly. All of them fall a bit short; the common thread above, in all cases, is that the two parties know each other. A good Samaritan falls out of the blue. Not only unknown, but he is one putting aside all his work to oblige a fellow human being. In short, above and beyond the call of duty.
 
Out of the Supreme Court come some interesting judgements. One intriguing, or very helpful judgement, recently passed by the Court, refers to critical aspects of everyday life. It dwells on the duties of what may be called the responsibilities of a citizen in his call to be a good Samaritan.
 
We had once considered the question of whether or not one is duty bound to quench a fire in a neighbour’s house; even when the neighbour and the person cannot stand the sight of each other! The legal requirement, for those who remember, is that you are required to save your enemy’s property. The two of you are not at war, declared, that is. If, today, there is a calamity just across some border, we are compelled to save both, life and goods.
 
Why should one save his obnoxious neighbour’s home from being gutted? Two reasons. Any destruction is a national loss; grief for other citizens. Secondly, the fire may spread, destroying more homes. Poetic justice might include your own, too. This calls for concerted effort, yours and the fire brigade’s and the medical services’. Incidentally, the law demands it.
 
Samir Zaveri and his work is a giant step in this direction. It is a proven fact that the Golden Hour is often lost. The term is used for the first hour after a major accident, or incident, including medical emergencies. This is the timeframe in which injuries take an irreversible toll. Help in those vital 60 minutes saves countless lives. However, apathy, delay, confusion, red-tape or plain callousness kills people. Literally. Yet, it happens every day. The question is: ‘Why’?
Apathy. Apathy kills. Apathy destroys. “It’s not my funeral” has become a way of thinking that has got ingrained. Sometimes, it is even a time of enjoyment. As this example will show.
 
Sassoon Dock, 30 years ago, was a major fish distribution centre. Trucks, tempos and handcarts carried the frozen fish out. The ice would melt and moisten the road, together with the fish oil. As long as it was relatively dry, not much happened. But a lot happened when unseasonal showers hit the spot that November. Mayhem followed. As we tried to get on our feet and drag the motor-bike away, around us were skidding cars, ricocheting buses and slipping pedestrians. Chaos reigned all round but the greatest roar was from the pavements where the ‘spectators’ vented their sickening approval at every entering vehicle that lost control.
 
A study at an American college proves this lack of concern. Behind closed doors, a girl was made to scream. ‘Help, help’, she cried, loud enough for those in the corridor to hear. Hardly anyone stopped to inquire, let alone help. The same sorry story played itself out in a study in Telengana (Andhra Pradesh) where it was found that only 10% of bystanders give a hand. People DO NOT STOP to help. 
 
The authorities found that there was another side to the coin; maybe a valid, though not a legitimate, reason. It was discovered that though people may be inclined to help, the aftermath of the investigations made life miserable for them. Police enquiries were not the only cause, though it was the major drawback. The cops have a duty to perform. They need witnesses. They need addresses. They need statements. They need proof. So do the insurance companies. And who else but the good Samaritan to get hold of?
 
 
In one recorded instant, a Vishal Sharma, after failing to get the police on the phone, took the late-night victim to the hospital in an auto-rickshaw. That is when his ordeal started. Admission to the hospital was a problem. It took half a day. Next, he was detained until the victim’s family arrived. He could not attend work. And, more was to come.
 
The family would now not get off his back. He was pestered to visit the insurance company with them. The rough going lasted seven days. “No more,” says 
 
Mr Sharma. “Will call 108, and that’s it.”
 
Fortunately, this dilemma was recently solved by the ministry of road transport and highways, egged on by the Supreme Court. Guidelines have been issued to prevent the victim-aider from becoming a victim himself. It reminds one of the days when an accident victim was denied medical assistance at a hospital until the police arrived. Some hospitals had a cop on duty at all times; some did not. That was later mercifully changed into stipulations for immediate help, cop 
or no cop.
 
The new guidelines are impressive. Notices in English, Hindi and the vernacular are to be put up at all hospital entrances which will declare that good Samaritans are not to be detained nor asked to pay for the treatment. They can remain incognito and need not fill in any forms. All that is voluntary, now. Pressuring the ‘Samaritan’ for personal information will invite disciplinary action. If required, the helper can be submitted to video-conferencing and no more, to avoid harassment. And the interrogation will take only one sitting. And end there. The notification is meant to encourage the public to help. Less will shy away. More will live.
 
The law, as it stood, had a reason, a sound one. It was meant to verify whether the victim was injured, or killed, by accident or by design. Dumping a body on the hospital and making a run for it would naturally arouse suspicion, especially if the wounds bore certain tell-tale marks.
 
There still is a provision that only the address of the helper will be noted, he being allowed to leave immediately. Whether this will not invite harassment of the type discussed above is not a settled issue. Only time will tell.
 
Savelife Foundation, the entity that moved the Supreme Court against the Union of India, needs to be commended. Rules, meant to solve one problem, quickly degenerate into a quagmire bereft of common sense and balloon into unwieldy ‘procedures’, where the inept and the corrupt find shelter and fruition. Shades of Nero fiddling while Rome burnt. 
 
The injunction against asking for details of the Samaritan is a bit difficult to comprehend in today’s world, so totally wired and televised. Can a person arriving at the hospital or police station really remain anonymous? There is also the camera phone in every one’s hand. Every step of the way is permanently recorded. The only way to remain unrecognisable, then, will be to wear a mask.
 
Another suggestion in the notification seems rather quaint. It is proposed that any person helping a stranger must be honoured, instead of being subjected to any kind of legal involvement. Does the honour mean a certificate of recognition? Going by our national trend to collect pieces of paper, it may well be that we will see a day when bystanders and the odd helpers will rush in to be counted. One body, one dozen carriers?

 

(Bapoo Malcolm is a practising lawyer in Mumbai. Please email your comments to [email protected]

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COMMENTS

Veeresh Malik

1 year ago

I have lost count of the number of times I have helped take people to hospital and not been held back or troubled beyond sometimes being asked for name, address and phone number. This is, ofcourse, in Delhi where awareness on this has been high for some time now. Only twice have the police called up for some more information, once they came over to ask something, and I would think only once has the family called up to thank me too.

vswami

1 year ago

To verify does his answer tallies with:
Q
For Whom the Bell Tolls
by John Donne >

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
UQ

vswami

1 year ago


To be or Not to be ONE ?
i think the answer lies in true awakening and soulful realization of-... what one thinks his answer should be to:
FOR WHOM THE CHURCH BELL TOLLS ?

Nifty, Sensex in an uptrend; Bank Nifty subdued - Wednesday closing report
Nifty uptrend will remain intact until it closes below 8,450
 
We had mentioned in Tuesday’s closing report that only a close below 8,420 may mean a short decline for Nifty. In Wednesday’s trading, Nifty and Sensex closed with healthy gains while Bank Nifty was subdued. 
 
 
Expectations of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India and cheaper oil imports from Iran cheered investor sentiments which led a barometer index of the Indian equity markets to gain more than 265 points on Wednesday.
 
The 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the S&P Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) closed the day's trade up by more than 265 points or 0.95%. The Sensex, which opened at 28,022.14 points, closed at 28,198.29 points, up 265.39 points or 0.95% from the previous day's close at 27,932.90 points. It touched a high of 28,218.37 points and a low of 27,986.48 points in the intra-day trade. The wider 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) closed 70 points or 0.82% up at 8,523.80 points.  
 
"Today's gains were made on the back of hopes that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will cut rates in its upcoming monetary policy review in August," Anand James, co-head, technical research desk, Geojit BNP Paribas, told IANS.
 
According to James, data points such as the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Wholesale Price Index (WPI) have come in line with estimates. 
 
These data points coupled with a good monsoon have renewed hopes of an RBI rate cut in August. 
 
On July 10, the IIP showed a slowdown to 2.7% for May - against 4.1% in April.
 
On Monday, official data on Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed a rise in India's retail inflation to 5.40% in June, while the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) continued in the negative territory in June, falling to (-)2.4%.
 
"Another factor for the healthy buying is the Iran nuclear deal. The deal is important for India as it can now import more oil from Iran on cheaper rates and increase its exports of pharmaceutical and other products to that country," James added. 
 
Industry experts foresee oil prices to plunge -- as and when Iran resumes exporting oil at the pre-sanction levels. The Middle East state is believed to have around 25-30 million barrels of oil ready for exports.
 
After Tuesday's volatility, Brent index stood at $58.51 and the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) gained to $53 per barrel on Wednesday. The WTI had fallen to $44 per barrel on Tuesday.
 
Gaurav Jain, director with Hem Securities, said: "Markets closed on strong note as international oil prices will come down with the imminent lifting of sanctions against Iran and India will be one of the beneficiaries."
 
Jain cited that India is the world's fourth largest oil consumer and also the second biggest buyer of Iranian oil after China. 
 
"Strong rupee and continued buying interest by foreign portfolio investors has lifted the sentiment of the market," James added.
 
Sector-wise, the majority of the 12 sectoral indices of the S&P BSE closed higher, except the consumer durables index.
 
The S&P BSE automobile index zoomed by 249.27 points, healthcare index augmented by 169.26 points, the information technology (IT) index jumped by 124.51 points, capital goods index was higher by 78.98 points, and technology, entertainment and media (TECK) index rose by 60.23 points.
 
However, consumer durables index fell by 132.43 points. The major Sensex gainers during Wednesday's trade were: Maruti Suzuki, up 2.63% at Rs.4,155; Tata Motors, up 2.22% at Rs.394.30; Wipro, up 2% at Rs.577.85; Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), up 1.87% at Rs.2,546.25; and Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M), up 1.82% at Rs.1,292. The major Sensex losers were: Tata Steel, down 0.35% at Rs.280.70 and State Bank of India (SBI), down 0.11% at Rs.268.30.
 
Among the Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei was up by 0.38%, but China's Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 3.02%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined by 0.26%.
 
In Europe, the London FTSE 100 index was up by 0.19%, the French CAC 40 was higher by 0.18%, and Germany's DAX Index gained by 0.15 percent at the closing bell here.
 
The top gainers and losers in the shares in the major indices are given in the table below:
 
 
The closing values of Asian stock market indices are given in the table below:
 
 
Among European indices, DAX was at 11,530.49, up 0.12% and FTSE 100 was at 6,762.29, up 0.13%. Greek stock market and banks were still closed. 

User

COMMENTS

Sundararajan

1 year ago

what's found subdued on wednesday, raising at faster rate on thursday --!!!!!!

BSE cracks down on 530 companies without a woman director
Stock exchange BSE has cracked the whip on 530 companies that have not appointed a woman director, asking them to pay up the fine for non-compliance, said an official.
 
"We have sent notices to 530 listed companies out of 4,262 companies that are eligible for trading. The total number of companies that are listed in BSE are 5,712 and out of them 1,450 have been suspended," the official, who didn't want to be named, told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
 
According to him, the BSE till date has issued advisory letters to 530 companies regarding levy of fines for non-appointment of women directors.
 
Markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had stipulated listed companies should have at least one woman representative on their board. Several of the companied met the SEBI deadline of March 30 by finding suitable persons and some by appointing close relatives of promoters.
 
However, industry watchers said the BSE action will not be very effective. 
 
"The penalty amount is very low and is not a deterrant for non-compliance," Prime Database managing director Pranav Haldea told IANS over phone from New Delhi.
 
According to SEBI, listed companies that comply with the norm between April 1-June 30 would be levied a fine of Rs.50,000.
 
For companies that comply with the stipulation between July 1-September 30, the fine will be a total of Rs.50,000 plus Rs.1,000 per day from July 1 till the date of compliance.
 
For listed companies that appoint women directors on or after October 1, the fine is Rs.142,000 plus Rs.5,000 per day from October 2015 till the date of compliance.
 
For any non-compliance beyond September 30, SEBI may take any other action, against the non-compliant entities, their promoters and/or directors or issue such directions in accordance with law, as considered appropriate.

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