Govt insulates Good Samaritan with new rules, no more police harassment

Good Samaritan’s examination by the investigating officer to be conducted at a time and place of his convenience

GN Bureau | January 25, 2016



A Good Samaritan in a road accident case has now been given a choice of becoming a police witness or not.

The new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) seek to put an end to police harassment of 'Good Samaritans' who choose to assist an injured person or a person in distress on the road. The latest SoP make it much easier for an innocent bystander to provide assistance to victims of accidents without getting embroiled in legal hassles too much.

In case the by-stander or passer-by is willing to be a witness on his own accord, the SOPs now stipulate that a police official, in plain clothes, should visit the witness' house or office or any other place of the latter's convenience to record their statement, unless the 'Good Samaritan' chooses to visit the police station himself.

"The Good Samaritan shall be treated respectfully and without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality, caste or any other grounds. Any police official or any other person shall not force any Good Samaritan who helps an injured person to become a witness in the matter. The option of becoming a witness in the matter shall solely rest with the Good Samaritan. The concerned Police official(s) shall allow the Good Samaritan to leave after having informed the Police about an injured person on the road, and no further questions shall be asked if the Good Samaritan does not desire to be a witness in the matter," the new SOPs issued last week say. All states have been directed to adopt these SOPs immediately with effect from January 21.

This comes after the supreme court in October 2014 had directed to issue necessary directions with regard to the protection of Good Samaritans until appropriate legislation is made by the Union Legislature. The Centre had published guidelines on May 12 last year for protection of 'Good Samaritans' and has now notified SOPs for examination of such persons by police.

"In case a Good Samaritan chooses to be a witness, his examination by the investigating officer shall, as far as possible, be conducted at a time and place of his convenience such as his place of residence or business, and the investigation officer shall be dressed in plain clothes, unless the Good Samaritan chooses to visit the police station. Where the examination of the Good Samaritan is not possible to be conducted at a time and place of his convenience and the Good Samaritan is required by the Investigation Officer to visit the police station, the reasons for the same shall be recorded by such officer in writing," the new SOPs say. In case the person chooses to come to the police station, he should be examined in a single time-bound session.

The SOPs reiterate that any person who makes a phone call to the police to give information about any accidental injury or death, except an eyewitness, may not reveal personal details such as full name, address, phone number etc.

"Any Police official, on arrival at the scene, shall not compel the Good Samaritan to disclose his /her name, identity, address and other such details in the Record Form or Log Register.” The Guidelines issued last May had stipulated that such Good Samaritans should be rewarded and not be made liable for any civil or criminal liability.

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