Follow Centre’s guidelines in accident cases, SC tells states

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed all the states to follow the Centre’s guidelines that encouraged eyewitnesses in road accidents to report to police and also help survivors with medical treatment.

The apex court also directed the Centre to publish its guidelines notified last year to ensure that all those who help accident victims/survivors were not harassed by the police.

An apex court bench comprising Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice Arun Mishra said that a witness who calls police to report an accident cannot be compelled to disclose his or her identity or contact details.

The Centre’s guidelines, which were advisory in nature, now have the apex court’s backing, making it obligatory for the states to follow them.

The court ruling came on a public interest litigation filed by non-governmental organisation ‘SaveLife Foundation’ that sought protection for good Samaritans from legal and other hassles while helping accident victims.

Under the guidelines, all hospitals are mandated to clearly state in English and in local languages that any person who brings a road accident victim for emergency treatment will not be asked to stay back or give money for the treatment of the injured.

Any doctor who declines to treat a road accident victim brought by an eyewitness will be guilty of “professional misconduct”.

Any hospital not complying with the guidelines would be penalised by the State government.

In order to insulate good Samaritans from getting entangled in legal complications, the guidelines say that police will be allowed a single session with such a person provided he or she chooses to disclose identity of their own volition.

A witness will be questioned through videoconferencing if it was inconvenient for him or her to personally come to record their eyewitness account.

The court directed the Centre that the guidelines be put in a standard format within 30 days for questioning of such a witness so that there is no danger of intimidation or harassment.