The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) of the Government of India (GOI) has issued (12 May 2015) a notification (No. 25035/101/2014-RS) protecting Good Samaritans.
The notification is significant in light of India’s poor road safety record. In fact, the notification is intended to encourage good Samaritans/ bystanders coming to the aid of road crash/ accident victims.
Good Samaritan: A good Samaritan in legal terms refers to someone who renders aid in an emergency to an injured person on a voluntary basis.
Good Samaritan laws take their name from a parable found in the Bible, attributed to Jesus, commonly referred to as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It recounts the aid given by a traveler from the area known as Samaria to another traveler of a conflicting religious and ethnic background who had been beaten and robbed by bandits.
1. A bystander/ good Samaritan including an eyewitness of a road accident may take an injured victim to the nearest hospital, and is allowed to leave immediately after furnishing address by eyewitness only. No question shall be asked to such bystander/ good Samaritan
2. Bystander/ good Samaritan shall be suitably rewarded to encourage other citizens.
3. Bystander/ good Samaritan shall not be liable for any civil and criminal liability.
4. Bystander/ good Samaritan who phones police/ emergency services to inform about injured person(s) lying on the road shall not be compelled to reveal his/her name and personal details on the phone or in person.
5. Disclosure of personal information (name, contact details) of the good Samaritan shall be voluntary and optional including in the Medico Legal Case (MLC) Form provided by hospitals.
6. Disciplinary/ departmental action shall be initiated by the Govt. concerned against public officials who coerce/ intimidate a bystander/ good Samaritan for revealing his/her name/ personal details.
7. In case a bystander/ good Samaritan voluntarily states that he/she is also an eye-witness to the accident, and is required to be examined for the purpose of investigation by the police, shall be examined on a single occasion.
8. States shall develop Standard Operating Procedures within 30 days of the issue of the notification for such examination.
9. Video conferencing may be used extensively during examination of bystander/ good Samaritan, including persons who are eyewitnesses in order to prevent inconvenience to them.
10. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall issue guidelines stating that all registered public and private hospitals are not to detain bystander/ good Samaritan or demand payment for registration and admission costs, unless the good Samaritan is a family member or relative of the injured and the injured is to be treated immediately in pursuance of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Pt. Parmanand Katara Vs Union of India & Ors  4 SCC 286.
11. Lack of response by a doctor in an emergency situation pertaining to road accidents, where he/she is expected to provide care, shall constitute “Professional Misconduct”, under Chapter 7 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002 and disciplinary action should be taken against such doctor under Chapter 8 of the said Regulations.
12. All hospitals shall publish a charter in Hindi, English and the vernacular language of the State/ Union Territory at their entrance to the effect that they shall not detain bystander/ good Samaritan or ask depositing money from them for the treatment of a victim.
13. The above guidelines in relation to the protection of bystander/ good Samaritan are without prejudice to the liability of the driver of a motor vehicle in the road accident, as specified under section 134 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1989 (59 of 1988).
Link to the Gazette Notification dated 12 May 2015: