Thursday, September 27, 2007

Accident victim care court ruling

My public-spirited friend ERR passed on a mail he got from a friend, with a note that if we spread the word widely and long enough, lives could be saved. The message in the mail, doing the rounds as chain-mail and among bloggers, pertains to a ‘Supreme Court ruling’ that enables a by-stander to rush victims of hit-and-run accidents/assaults to hospital, without anxiety over hassles with the police or court-kachheri chakkar.

A stranger who brings an accident victim to hospital can walk out after leaving the victim in ER and it is the hospital’s responsibility to inform the police. First-aid /medical care come first. Question of payment and police formalities would arise only after the victim had been given immediate medical attention at ER.

My thoughts on reading this was, how come the mainstream media and TV channels missed such critical public interest court ruling. What was the case in reference to which the Supreme Court gave the ruling? In fact, did the apex court give such a ruling at all?

Googling for answers I ran into this observation from an Ahmedabad-based law firm. Its prime spokesman Mr Homi Maratha, in response to a post in Lawguru.com, is quoted as saying that hospitals have their own policies and as part of the procedure they adopt the responsibility of the person who brings in the injured does not end at leaving the accident victim at a hospital. You can always refer the SCC or Constitution Law of India, ‘you can find certain relevant authorities’.

Another advocate, Mr Sidharth in New Dehi says an answer could be found in the Commentary on the Constitution.

This was where I left my Google search. Maybe, someone legally knowledgeable could take this from here. Wonder if a query under RTI Act would be admissible in this case; in ascertaining the authenticity of what is being widely circulated as a Supreme Court ruling.

2 comments:

Dr (Lt.Col.) Y.N.I. said...

The reality is otherwise. Few pvt hospitals will accept an accident victim giving some or the other excuse. Fewer still accept them without the person bringing the victim being present in the hospital. What if the person who brings the victim himself has caused the accident? Despite claims by the police to the contrary, there is always a fear of being harassed by the police in the mind of the bystander who attends to the victim. Later, courts may summon him and no one wants to get into this muddle. May be there are a few exceptions when the bystnader is a doctor when few questions will be put to him by the hospital or the police authorities. It is a vicious circle.

narendra shenoy said...

The big problem in India is lack of accountability. Let us say that a hospital, private or otherwise, refused to admit a trauma case and the patient died. If there was a provision to fix criminal responsibility for not providing timely and competent medical care, the problem would be solved. After all, if someone is practising medicine publicly, he is bound by the Hippocratic oath.
Further let us say the police harasses the hospital for neglecting to complete formalities. They usually do this, in order to extract bribes. The officer in charge should be liable to face punishment if inquiry shows that the medical personel acted in good faith. After all, it is the policeman's duty to use his brains and judgement.

All this is wishful thinking. This country is hugely allergic to any legislation that tries to fix responsibility on any one. Our great democratic system is designed to ensure that it never happens. Did you read about the former Chief Secretary of UP being arrested for amassing assets of 200 Cr? No one is going to be indicted for not having reported this. None of his political masters, bureaucratic peers, the police, the CBI, no one. He himself will drag himself out of the mess using a few of the 200 crores that he has stashed under his pillow. No one is going to fix any responsibility on the public prosecutor or the investigating officers of the CBI if they dilute the case. My general feeling regarding my country is "Aaargh!"