The Delhi cabinet on Friday approved a Good Samaritan policy under which the government will provide Rs 2,000 to any person extending help in taking a road accident victim to the hospital.
“This scheme will encourage people to take accident victims to the hospital. Along with Rs 2,000, an appreciation certificate issued by the government will also be given,” said deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.
Experts said that the new move will give bystanders incentive to help accident victims and more importantly also provide them with legal protection.
“A Supreme Court order with regards to helping accident victims needs to be institutionalised better. That can only be done if people are motivated by giving them assurance that there is a law in place that will protect them. The monetary benefit is a great initiative but money is not the only factor when it comes to helping helping victims. It is the fear of legal hassles,” said Saji Cherian, director (operations) of the road safety NGO SaveLife Foundation.
He said that Delhi needs a comprehensive state-specific law for the protection of good samaritans similar to the one passed by Karnataka in November 2016.
In 2012, SaveLife Foundation had filed a PIL which led to an SC judgement in 2016. The judgment had issued a list of guidelines protecting good samaritans from legal hassles. A bench comprising justices VP Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra directed the Centre to give wide publicity to the guidelines, which clearly stipulated that people who help victim of road accidents or other calamities would not be harassed in any way.
The NGO in their petition had submitted the results of a survey conducted by them, which showed that 74% of the bystanders are unlikely to assist a victim of serious injury. They found that in Delhi the situation was the worst as 96% of people were unlikely to help.
As per the Law Commission of India, 50% of those killed in road accidents could have been saved if they had received immediate assistance. A report by World Health Organisation (WHO) also claimed that “skilled and empowered bystanders play a crucial role in saving lives” and “in order to enable bystanders to come forward and help injured persons, a supportive legal and ethical environment is needed”.
In 2015, 8085 accidents had taken place in the capital, in which 1622 people lost their lives.