Friday, 29 July 2016

Rights of a Good Samaritan and Procedure to be followed if they choose to become a witness

Samaritans are the bystanders and passers-by who render the help to the victims of road accidents.

Every year thousands of people die in India due to road accidents. The Law Commission of India in its 201st report observes that 50% of those killed in road accidents could have been saved had timely assistance been rendered to them.[1] The WHO in its ‘World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, 2004’ has projected that by 2020, road accidents will be one of the biggest killers in India.[2] It also emphasized that in low income countries, the most common desisting factor restraining the public from coming forward to help victims, is the apparent fear of being involved in police cases.

Accident cases require fastest care and rescue which could be provided by those closest to the scene of the accident. Bystander’s clear support is essential to enhance the chances of survival of victim in the ‘Golden Hour’ i.e. the first hour of the injury. As per the WHO India Recommendations, 50% of the victims die in the first 15 minutes due to serious cardiovascular or nervous system injuries and the rest can be saved through by providing basic life support during the ‘Golden Hour’.

It is usually seen that people are hesitant to render immediate help to the road accident victims. The victims lay wounded on the road for some time till the arrival of police. The delay in rendering medical help can be fatal. Good Samaritans have the fear of legal consequences, involvement in litigation and repeated visits to police station. There is urgent need to tackle these issues. The Supreme Court in the case of Savelife Foundation & Anr v. Union ofIndia & Anr approved the guidelines issued by the Centre for the protection of Good Samaritans. These guidelines will remain in force till there is an appropriate law.

The guidelines give the following Rights to the Good Samaritans:

1. The Good Samaritan will be treated respectfully and without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality and caste.
2. Any individual, except an eyewitness, who calls the police to inform them of an accidental injury or death need not reveal his or her personal details such as full name, address or phone number.
3. The police will not compel the Good Samaritan to disclose his or her name, identity, address and other such details in the police record form or log register.
4. The police will not force any Good Samaritan to become a witness in the matter. The option of becoming a witness in the matter shall solely rest with the Good Samaritan.
5. The police will allow the Good Samaritan to leave after having provided the information available to him or her, and no further questions will be asked of him or her if he or she does not desire to be a witness.

In case Good Samaritans chooses to become witnesses, the guidelines accord them protection and comfort. Procedure to be followed in case they choose to become a witness:

1. If a Good Samaritan chooses to be a witness, he or she will be examined with utmost care and respect and without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality, caste or any other grounds.
2. The examination will be conducted at a time and place of the Good Samaritan’s convenience and the investigation officer will be dressed in plain clothes. 
3. If the Good Samaritan is required by the investigation officer to visit the police station, the reasons for the requirement shall be recorded by the officer in writing.
4. In case the Good Samaritan speaks a language other than the language of the Investigating Officer or the local language of the respective jurisdiction, the Investigating Officer shall arrange for an interpreter.
5. In a police station, the Good Samaritan will be examined in a single examination in a reasonable and time-bound manner, without causing any undue delay.
 6. If a Good Samaritan declares himself to be an eyewitness, he or she will be allowed to give his or her evidence in the form of an affidavit.
7. In case the attendance of the Good Samaritan cannot be procured without delay, expense or inconvenience which, under the circumstances of the case, would be unreasonable, or his examination is unable to take place at a time and place of his convenience, the Court of Magistrate may appoint a commission for the examination of the Good Samaritan in accordance with section 284 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on an application by the concerned.

These will offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are injured in the road accidents. The protection is intended to reduce bystanders' hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death. A good deed without hesitation can save a precious life of someone.


Monday, 25 July 2016

Procedure of filing a Right to Information application (RTI) Offline and Online

The basic object of the Right to Information Act, 2005 is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government.

Essential requirements of an application filed under the RTI Act are:
(a) The applicant should be a citizen of India.
(b) The application should contain the particulars of information sought.
(c) The evidence of payment of application fee should be enclosed.
(d) The address of the applicant should be available for sending a reply.

Procedure of applying RTI application Offline
Firstly, you have to identify the department from which you want the information. After that you have to write the application by hand, or type it, in English, Hindi or the official language of the area.
Secondly, address the application to the State/Central Public Information Officer. Write the name of the office from which applicant seeks information, and the complete, correct address. Clearly mention ‘Seeking information under the RTI Act, 2005’ in the subject line.
Thirdly, state the request in the form of specific, detailed questions, and mention the period/year your request falls into. Ask for documents or extracts of documents, if required.
Fourthly, provide your full name and address, contact details, email address and sign the application clearly.
Fifthly, take a photocopy of the application and keep one with you for future reference. Send your application by post or hand it in personally to the department concerned.

Procedure of applying RTI application Online
The RTI application can also be made online. The link of the portal to file RTI applications/first appeals online along with payment gateway is:
Any citizen can make a request through the RTI Online Portal to the Central Ministries/Departments and other Central Public Authorities mentioned in ONLINE RTI request form. RTI application for state public authorities cannot be filed through the online portal. It is not mandatory for the Applicant to create a user account and he can directly file the RTI on 'Submit Request' tab. On submission of an application, a unique registration number will be issued, which may be referred by the applicant for any future reference.

Cost of RTI application
The applicant has to pay Rs. 10 to file a RTI plea. To obtain documents, the applicant has to make a payment of Rs. 2 per page

Exemption of payment for BPL applicant
Applicants below the poverty line (BPL) are exempted from making the payment. However, they have to attach a copy of the BPL certificate along with the application.

Reason for seeking information
The information seeker is not required to give reasons for seeking information.

Requirement of a lawyer in filing RTI
A person in not required to engage a lawyer to file a RTI as he can himself file a RTI, appeal and second appeal.

Exemption from Disclosure of Information
Section 8(1) and 9 of the RTI Act enumerate the types of information which are exempted from disclosure. Section 8(2), however, provides that information exempted under section 8(1) or exempted under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 can be disclosed if public interest in disclosure overweighs the harm to the protected interest.

Time Period for Supply of Information
In normal course, information to an applicant shall be supplied within 30 days from the receipt of application by the public authority. If information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, it shall be supplied within 48 hours. In case the application is sent through the Assistant Public Information Officer or it is sent to a wrong public authority, 5 days shall be added to the period of 30 days or 48 hours, as the case may be.

Appeal under the RTI Act
If an applicant is not supplied information within the prescribed time of 30 days or 48 hours, as the
case may be, or is not satisfied with the information furnished to him, he may prefer an appeal to the first appellate authority who is an officer senior in rank to the Public Information Officer. Such an appeal should be filed within a period of 30 days from the date on which the limit of 30 days of supply of information is expired or from the date on which the information or decision of the Public Information Officer is received. The appellate authority of the public authority shall dispose of the appeal within a period of 30 days or in exceptional cases within 45 days of the receipt of the appeal.

Second appeal under the RTI Act

If the first appellate authority fails to pass an order on the appeal within the prescribed period or if the appellant is not satisfied with the order of the first appellate authority, he may prefer a second appeal with the Central Information Commission within 90 days from the date on which the decision should have been made by the first appellate authority or was actually received by the appellant.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Procedure of filing a First Information Report (FIR)

FIR means First Information Report, made to police, about commission of a cognizable offence. It amounts to putting law in to motion by giving information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence to an officer in charge of a police station, (which shall be reduced into writing and read over to the informant ) and shall be signed by the person giving such information.

Who can lodge an F.I.R?

An FIR can be lodged by:
Ø  An aggrieved person.
Ø  A person who is aware about the facts of the crime.
Ø  A person who has seen a crime being committed.

Place of lodging the FIR

To file an F.I.R, one has to go to the police station within the jurisdiction of which the cause of action arose or the offence took place.

Crimes for which an FIR can be lodged

The police can register FIRs only for cognizable offences — where the police have the power to arrest without a warrant. Examples of cognizable offences include murder, rape, theft, attack, etc. For non-cognizable offences, such as bigamy or defamation, the police cannot arrest without a warrant and thus cannot register an FIR. In such cases the complaint is sent to the Judicial Magistrate for action.

How to lodge FIR?

The informant/complainant should go to the Police Station having jurisdiction over the area (where the offence is committed) and report to Officer in-charge /station house officer about commission of a cognizable offence.

In case information is given on telephone, the informant/complainant should subsequently go to the police station for registration of FIR.

Every piece of information relating to the commission of offence is to be given to the officer in-charge of the police station. If it is given orally to the officer, he shall reduce it to writing and read it over to the informant to confirm and verify the details.

Every such information has to be signed by the informant after which it is required to be recorded by the officer in a book maintained for this purpose as prescribed by the State Government.

What if the Officer in charge of the police station refuses to lodge an FIR?

If the officer in-charge of the police station refuses to record the information, one can send the substance of such information, in writing to the Superintendent of Police concerned. The Superintendent of Police can start the investigation himself or direct any other officer subordinate to him to start the investigation. In case of refusal of lodging of FIR one can also file a complaint directly to the Judicial Magistrate by himself or through his lawyer. In this case the Judicial Magistrate orders the police to lodge the FIR under section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Cost of copy of FIR


The copy of FIR must be given free of cost to the informant.