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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mohali hit-and-run case throws up questions about how police deal with accident victims

The body of Banita, who was killed in the hit-and-run case, was lying on the road for nearly two hours.

Written by Gagandeep Singh Dhillon | Mohali | Published: September 11, 2014 10:13:46 am

The accident in Mohali on Monday night in which a young woman was killed after being hit by a rashly-driven car has brought to fore the questionable ways in which the police deal with accident victims who “die on the spot”.

The body of Banita, who was killed in the hit-and-run case, was lying on the road for nearly two hours before it was shifted to the Mohali Civil Hospital. Although only the hospital authorities can declare a victim dead, and Supreme Court guidelines dictate that a victim has to be rushed to the nearest hospital no matter what, the police believe that if the victim is “very clearly dead”, things can wait.

On Monday night, a visit to the accident spot on the busy road dividing sectors 69 and 78 revealed that after the accident which occurred at around 8.45 pm, the police soon reached the spot but Banita’s body kept lying on the road till around 10.30 pm. Initially, the victim remained unidentified but the police learnt from the dress she was wearing that she worked at a nearby private hospital. The hospital authorities were contacted, and by 10.30pm, the woman’s father reached the spot and identified the body.

It was then that the police arranged a private vehicle passing by, and the body was directly taken to the civil hospital’s mortuary in Phase 6. The father’s statement was recorded, and a case of rash driving and death by negligence registered.

“In some accident cases, it is very apparent that a victim has died. For example, in this case, even the woman’s father did not object to her lying there as he knew she had died because she had received gruesome injuries. Therefore, shifting the body to the hospital is not an immediate priority as there are legal formalities to be completed. The police do not have the authority to declare a person dead but only lawyers raise such questions. It is not something to be reported by the media,” a police official said. Police sources also attributed the delay in procedure to shortage of emergency staff and vehicles.

Meanwhile, SP Harpal Sandhu said, “When somebody is injured, she/he is rushed to hospital without wasting any time. But upon the victim’s death, a police photographer has to be called, and a site plan prepared which may take some time. Then usually a private vehicle is arranged to shift the body.”

However, according to SC guidelines, every victim has to be immediately rushed to hospital without wasting time in legal formalities. Also, only the hospital authorities can declare the victim dead after which the body is kept in the mortuary.

Last month, in another hit-and-run case in Sector 57, the body of a man kept lying on a road for around an hour before it was shifted
to hospital.

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