SC upholds rules to support Good Samaritans

The Supreme Court upheld a Central notification issuing standard operating procedure (SOP) for the protection and examination of ‘Good Samaritans’ — those who help road accident victims — and make it binding on all State governments and authorities.

A Bench endorsed the January 21, 2016 notification issued by the Transport Ministry as a positive signal for a concerted effort to change the public’s attitude of turning away from helping a road accident victim reach critical medical care. The court said wide publicity should be given by the Centre and the States about the guidelines.

The SOP was framed by the government on the orders passed by the Supreme Court on a PIL plea filed by NGO Save LIFE Foundation in 2012, highlighting the fact that more lives of accident victims can be saved if a law can be made to protect Good Samaritans from legal and procedural hassles at the hands of police and hospitals. The Centre issued a series of guidelines on May 12, 2015, to protect Good Samaritans. These included assuring them anonymity, protecting them from any civil or criminal liability for taking the victim to the nearest hospital and even a suitable reward for the life-saving initiative. The government had also indicated that an SOP should be further evolved in this regard.

Public interest Litigation

The origin and evolution of Public Interest Litigation in India emanated from realization of constitutional obligation by the Judiciary towards the vast sections of the society – the poor and the marginalized sections of the society.  The term “PIL” originated in the United States in the mid-1980s. PIL had begun in India towards the end of 1970s and came into full bloom in the 80s. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and Justice PM. Bhagwati, honourable Judges of the Supreme Court of India delivered landmark judgements which opened up new vistas in PIL. According to Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, PIL is a process, of obtaining justice for the people, of voicing people’s grievances through the legal process. The aim of PIL is to give to the common people of this country access to the courts to obtain legal redress; an extraordinary remedy, available at a cheaper cost.

Earlier only the affected parties had the locus standi (standing required in law) to file a case and continue the litigation and the non affected persons had no locus standi to do so. And as a result, there was hardly any link between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Indian Union and the laws made by the legislature on the one hand and the vast majority of illiterate citizens on the other. However, this entire scenario gradually changed when the Supreme Court tackled the problem of access to justice by people through radical changes and alterations made in the requirements of locus standi and of party aggrieved. In filing of Public Interest Litigation there is no such condition. Any person can file a Public Interest Litigation. The only condition being that the same has to be filed in Public Interest (such as Pollution, Terrorism, Road safety, Constructional hazards etc). Public Interest Litigation is litigation introduced in a court of law, not by the aggrieved party but by the court itself or by any other private party. Public Interest Litigation is the power given to the public by courts to protect interest of public at large. Such cases may occur when the victim does not have the necessary resources to commence litigation or his freedom to move court has been suppressed or encroached upon. The court can itself take cognizance of the matter and precede suo motu or cases can commence on the petition of any public-spirited individual.It is a way of using the law strategically to effect social change.



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