In a move that could go a long way in encouraging witnesses to report accidents to the police, the Centre 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 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 and the SOPs issued by the government 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.
Any disclosure of personal information or offer to be a witness, in the event of 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.
The SOPs as laid down by the court under Article 32 (right to constitutional remedies), read with Article 142, is binding on Union Territories and the States.