Why does India not have a good samaritan law?

Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Madhavi Pothukuchi| The News Minute| November 7, 2014| 3.42 pm IST  It is said that every three minutes, a person in India dies in a road accident. There is a road accident every minute in the country. These shocking statistics were published in the latest report by the Road Transport Ministry. The Law Commission of India also published a report that said that half of these deaths could be prevented had the victims been provided with first aid on time. Most Indians have an ugly habit of being just avid spectators when it comes to accidents. A hundred people will stand and watch, but not one will step forward to help an injured or dying person in front of them. But are they spectators because they want to help but are simply too scared to get into the messy procedure of helping a victim? A similar feeling of injustice and anger filled Dr. Piyush Tewari when he lost his 17-year-old cousin in a road accident. He did not receive any first aid help and eventually died at the accident site. After much research, Tewari realized that most accident victims lose their lives due to untimely first aid or no first aid at all. He then started the SAVELife Foundation, along with his friend Krishen Mehta that provides first aid and trauma care training to police officers and volunteers. These training programs are conducted in the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. Tewari also figured out that the reason people are reluctant to help accident victims is because they are afraid of the medical and legal hassles involving an accident victim. Upon further research, he came upon the Good Samaritan Law. It is a law that protects those citizens who provide help and first aid to victims of road accidents by ensuring that they are not detained in hospitals when they arrive with a victim, or that they are not harassed by law enforcement or legal procedures once they have helped a victim.  This is not a new law, and is practiced in countries like Canada, China, the United States, Australia, Israel, Finland, Germany and Ireland. In fact, in the countries of Ireland and Germany it is a crime to not help or ignore a victim in need of help. The law in these countries also includes a clause of ‘good faith’ that protects the Good Samaritan from legal liability if the help provided to the victim worsens their situation or increases their risk of further injury. Wanting that such a bill to be passed in the Indian Parliament, Tewari started an open petition to bring about such a law in the country. His petition also includes an open letter to the Health and Family Welfare Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan. The petition asks for recognition and respect for the good Samaritan, along with hassle-free police and medical procedures for them. He hopes that this law will encourage people to help and possibly save close to 70,000 lives a year. Sign Piyush Tewari’s petition for a Good Samaritan Law, here.

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