On Monday, Actor-turned MP Kirron Kher pushed for a 'Good Samaritan Law' to protect people who usually step away from helping others "fearing legal hassle", citing the issue of how none came to the help of the Delhi gang rape victim Nirbhaya and something that's usual with other victims in cases including road crashes.
The Chandigarh MP submitted a petition, signed by over 80,000 people, to health minister J P Nadda on the concerned subject after she moved a private member's Bill on this in Lok Sabha last week. She said, "I will meet other ministers and take it up to ensure that the law is made to protect people who can help save lives. We need to have a law that encourages people to help the injured, transport them to hospital without any fear of being harassed by anyone. Other countries have similar laws."
The Bill proposes the setting up of an entity, Good Samaritan Authority, and all other necessary provisions, that would receive complaints of harassment or violations of rights of good Samaritans i.e., people who care and to start legal proceedings against the accused. It also proposes that every hospital and clinic must provide emergency treatment. Failure to do so would be attracting a penalty that may cancel their license and a minimum fine of Rs 10 lakhs, it says.
A Good Samaritan Fund has also been proposed by Mrs. Kher, to implement the provisions of the proposed law. When the family members of the victims are not in a position to incur the emergency expenses, this fund can foot bills for emergency care for the injured.
India loses 15 lives every hour and another 60 are injured because of road crashes and such a law can save tens and thousands of life. After 'Save Life Foundation' had filed a petition in the Supreme Court highlighting how bystanders don't come to the rescue of crash victims fearing legal hassles, the apex court recently directed the road transport ministry to come out with guidelines to protect 'Good Samaritans'. "We need a law even as we welcome the effort of government to notify the guidelines. Legal statute will have a greater effect on the society and government machineries," said Piyush Tewari of the foundation.
The road transport ministry will put it before a committee of secretaries under the cabinet secretary so that all relevant departments, including home and health, are directed to implement the guidelines, following the Supreme Court decision.