The Centre has issued a notification ensuring that the affidavit of “Good Samaritan”, a person who voluntarily declares himself to be an eyewitness, shall be treated by the investigating officer as a final statement.
The notification is in response to Supreme Court directions in an October 2014 case of SaveLIFE Foundation asking the Centre to issue directions to save Good Samaritans until Parliament frames a law.
The court had directed the government to frame Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the examination of a Good Samaritan. In March, the court approved the guidelines and the SOPs issued by the government with certain modifications.
- According to the notification, the affidavit of Good Samaritan, if filed, shall be treated as a complete statement by the police official while conducting the investigation. In case, the statement is to be recorded, the complete statement shall be recorded in a single examination.
- The crux of the guidelines is that no bystander rushing to the rescue of an accident victim should be subject to civil or criminal liability and/or be forced to be a witness.
- Also, any disclosure of personal information or offer to be a witness, in the event of the Good Samaritan also being an eyewitness to an accident, ought to be voluntary. Further, the examination of such a volunteer as a witness shall be done only on a single occasion and without harassment or intimidation.
Centre, in April 2016, had issued notification for protection of Good Samaritans. Guidelines include:
- Assuring Good Samaritans anonymity and protecting them from any civil or criminal liability for taking the victim to the nearest hospital.
- They shall be treated respectfully and without discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality, caste or any other.
- Complete anonymity in case the Good Samaritan does not want to reveal his name or details.
- Use of video-conferencing in case of any further interaction with him by the authorities and provision for the police to examine him at his residence or office or any place of his convenience.