Helping victims now harassment-proof
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issues first responder guidelines following PIL by Delhi resident
During a road accident, the first responder is usually a bystander who either calls the police or ambulance or rushes the victim to a hospital. But this category of volunteer has been shrinking over the years.
In 2007, Piyush Tewari lost his cousin Shivam Bajpai who was hit by a jeep while crossing Ring Road. He had dragged himself to the side of the road, but no one called the police for 45 minutes. pic/Datta Kumbhar
“Often, most people don’t bother to help because they fear police, hospital and court proceedings.
They’d rather not come forward to rescue the injured then,” says Piyush Tewari, a 35-year-old Delhi-based private equity expert, after a personal investigation into bystander’s hesitation that he conducted across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Jaipur and Hyderabad. Tewari was prompted by the death of his 16-year-old cousin, who passed away in a road accident in the capital in 2007.
“My cousin, Shivam Bajpai, was crossing Ring Road when he was hit by a jeep that was moving against traffic. He dragged himself to the side of the road and lay bleeding for 45 minutes, pleading for help. No one called the police or took him to hospital,” recollects Tewari who, in 2008 set up the SaveLIFE Foundation (SLF).
SLF works towards enabling Bystander Care — the immediate care that police and public can provide emergency victims, especially those involved in road accidents, to enhance chances of survival — in India.
In the last seven years, Tewari has worked with ministers and bureaucrats in the Central government to formulate policies and make changes in existing legal norms connected to road accident victims.
His efforts have borne results.
On May 12 this year, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, submitted its notification to the Supreme Court in response to a PIL filed by SLF in May 2012. Later, on June 4, 2015 (a copy is with SMD), the notification was made public.
The notification says that the Central government considers it necessary to protect Good Samaritans from harassment when they save road accident victims. It has also issued guidelines to be followed by hospitals, police and all authorities for the protection of Good Samaritans.
However, Tewari, who quit his job in 2011 to concentrate on SLF, says, the guidelines will “gain much more strength only if the Parliament enacts the Good Samaritan Law, which is yet to be acknowledged by the central government”.
Killed on Mumbai roads
Total accidents 2,219
Total Injuries 1,720
Total deaths 667
>> A bystander/Good Samaritan/ eyewitness of a road accident may take an injured person to the nearest hospital. They should be allowed to leave immediately with no questions asked
>> They shall be suitably rewarded or compensated to encourage other citizens to help accident victims
>> They shall not be liable for any civil or criminal liability
>> A bystander/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
>> Disclosure of personal information, such as name and contact details, shall be voluntary and optional, even in the Medico Legal Case (MLC) Form
>> A bystander/Good Samaritan, who has voluntarily stated that he is an eyewitness to the accident and is required to be examined by the police or during the trial, shall be examined on a single occasion and the state government shall develop SOPs to ensure that s/he is not harassed or intimidated