road accident
road accidentWikimedia Commons/ Biswarup Ganguly

Paving way for bystanders helping out road accident victims, the Supreme Court Wednesday approved a notification by the Centre that provided protection to Good Samaritans. Those who help road accident victims will no longer face any civil or criminal liability. 

The Good Samaritan guidelines will be applicable in all states and Union territories. The guidelines would prevent harassment to those who come to the aid of road accident victims. The notification, approved by Justice V Gopala Gowda, would potentially save lives of hundreds of people. 

The Supreme Court had asked the government in October 2014 to frame strong guidelines to protect those who help the victims of road accidents. 

"They should not be forced to disclose their identity and should not be called to appear for court hearings," the Supreme Court-appointed K Skandan Committee had said in its report, according to IBN Live

Under the new guidelines, bystanders and those who have helped a victim need not give their details, except eyewitnesses. They would also be allowed to leave right after taking the victim to the hospital, if they don't wish to become a witness. 

Registered public and private hospitals can't charge a Good Samaritan for admission charges. The police cannot compel a Good Samaritan to become a witness, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways notification reads. They will be given a choice about recording their statement at a court through video conferencing. 

A Good Samaritan, if s/he wishes to be a witness, will be examined by the police at a place of the citizen's convenience. If that is not possible, the reason for that would have to be recorded by the police. And then police would have to examine the person in one sitting.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highway issued a notification August 2015 to Regional Transport Offices (RTO) to spread awareness about the Centre's guidelines, according to the Hindustan Times

The courts's approval to the notification comes as a much-needed move as India tops the list of road accident-related deaths across the world. Tamil Nadu, followed by Uttar Pradesh, reported the most road accident deaths by only buses in 2014.