A private member Bill introduced by Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden in Lok Sabha on Friday calls for a law to exempt those who come forward to help accident victims from criminal or civil liability, and maintains that people do not come forward to help accident victims since they fear harassment by the police later.
The Good Samaritan Bill, 2019, also demands that “every hospital and medical practitioner” providing emergency medical treatment to an accident victim should not insist that it is a medico-legal case, requiring information to the police.
Hospitals and medical practitioners should also not demand advance payment as a condition to provide emergency medical aid, it states.
The Bill defines a “good Samaritan” as a person “who voluntarily gives help to those in distress or need and requires emergency medical treatment.”
Eden told The Indian Express: “There are many people, especially the young, who do not help accident victims because they are afraid of the cases, or fear that they will have to pay money at the hospital. Most youngsters hesitate taking such victims to the hospital. Although the government says there will be no medico-legal cases against such people, I feel there should be a law to enforce that.”
The Bill proposes that a good Samaritan should not be held liable to any civil or criminal liability for “anything done…” to save the life of a person in an emergency medical situation. It suggests that such people should have certain rights — such as to be “treated respectfully and without any discrimination on the ground of gender, religion, nationality and caste, not be asked or compelled to file a First Information Report”, and “shall not be detained by the hospital or any police official for any reason”.
The Bill proposes that a good Samaritan should also not be compelled to either stand witness or provide evidence to the police, or reveal his/her identity, address, phone number and other such details. If such a person volunteers to assist in the investigation of an accident, “the police shall act with sensitivity towards him and complete the recording of his statement and all other proceedings relating to him in a timely manner with utmost care and respect”.
A good Samaritan’s police examination “shall be conducted at a time and place of his convenience, and the investigation officer be dressed in plain clothes”, the Bill suggests.
One of the provisions of the Bill is: “Every hospital and medical practitioner shall provide emergency medical treatment to every victim of an accident who has come his own or has been brought in an emergency medical condition to the hospital or to the medical practitioner…. If any hospital is not equipped to deal with the emergency treatment for any reason, it shall assist in transferring and directing the victim to the nearest hospital where such emergency treatment is available.”