Concept of Good Samaritans

Good Samaritans is a person who gratuitously gives help or sympathy to those in distress. 

According to the Law Commission of India, 50% of those killed in road accidents could have been saved had timely assistance been rendered to them.

When someone in a poor family is injured and is bed ridden at home or the hospital, the whole family gets involved in the care of the patient. This result in the reallocation of labour of all family members – those on daily wages lose their income; children may not go to school; and older family members may spend less time in the care of children and infants. The household has to cope with the time and financial demands of the situation and this can have a permanent affect on the health of children and infants in the family. This can be the result of loss of income, less attention, worsening hygiene at home, etc. 

Since a very large number of poor households depend on daily wages and temporary jobs, don’t have health insurance, or the assistance of social welfare schemes, a serious injury can result in permanent reduction of income. In cases of prolonged treatment or death of the victim, the family may end up selling most of their assets and land and getting trapped into long-term indebtedness. Investment in treatment of a seriously ill family member stops only when all assets get sold. A study from Thailand shows that 60% of involuntary land sales were to finance treatment of a family member. Death of a male head of household creates a household headed by a woman. Such families have to suffer serious social and economic hardships and can have negative health effects on children. 

Hence the Supreme Court had directed, all the states to follow the centre's guidelines issued by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways ( MoRTH) on helping accident victims for protection of 'Good Samaritans' that encouraged witnesses in road accidents to report the police and also help survivors with medical treatment.

Guidelines lay down for the 'Good Samaritans':

a) The Good Samaritans will be treated respectfully and without any discrimination on the ground of the gender, religion, nationality and cast.

b) Any individual, except an eyewitness, who calls the police to inform of an accidental injury or death, need not reveal his or her personal details such as, full name, address, or the phone number.

c) The police will not compel the Good Samaritans to disclose his/her name identity, address and other such details in the police record form or log register and in procuring information or anything else.

d) The police will allow the Good Samaritans to leave after having provided the information available to him or her, and no further questions will be asked of him or her if he or she does not desire to be a witness.

Guidelines if Good Samaritans agree to become witness: 

a) He/she will be examine with almost care and respect.

b) The examination will conducted at a time place of the Good Samaritans convenience and the investigation officer will be dressed in the plain clothes.

c) If the Good Samaritans required by the investigation officer to visit the police station, the reason for the requirement shall be covered by the officer in writing.

d) In a police station a Good Samaritans will be examined in a single examination in a reasonable time-bound manner, without causing any undue delay.

e) If a Good Samaritans declared himself to be an eyewitness, she/he will allow giving her/his evidence in the form of affidavit.

f) The Higher Rank holder of police that is, Superintendent or Deputy Commissioner of police is responsible to enquire in this procedure.

g) Video conferencing may be used extensively during examination of Good Samaritans in order to prevent harassment and inconvenience to Good Samaritans.

h) All registered public and private hospitals are not to detain Good Samaritans or demand payment for registration and admission cost unless he/she is the family member or the relative of the injured.

i) All hospitals shall publish a charter in Hindi, English and the vernacular of the state or the Union Territory.

j) A letter containing these guidelines shall be issued by the central and state government to all hospitals and institute under their jurisdiction, shall publish advertisement in all national and one regional newspaper including electronic media and the print media for spreading awareness amongst society and resulted in to give encouragement to more Good Samaritans.