Good Samaritan Bill gets President’s nod
- President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Karnataka Good Samaritan and Medical Professional (Protection and Regulation During Emergency Situations) Bill, 2016.
- The President gave assent last week.
- The legislation aims to give protection to Good Samaritans, ensure immediate medical assistance for road accident victims within the ‘golden hour’, and encourage people to offer first aid to victims without the fear of legal wrangles.
- In medical terms, the ‘golden hour’ is the first hour after a traumatic injury when emergency treatment is very crucial. Karnataka is one of the top States that recorded deaths in road accidents.
- Legislative Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar, who was Health and Family Welfare Minister, piloted the Bill.
Who is a Good Samaritan?
- A Good Samaritan is a person who, in good faith, without expectation of payment or reward and without any duty of care or special relationship, voluntarily comes forward to administer immediate assistance or emergency care to a person injured in an accident, or crash, or emergency medical condition, or emergency situation.
Why be a Good Samaritan?
- Over 70,000 lives can be potentially saved if bystanders come forward to help.
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in the absence of established emergency medical services, bystanders can play a game changing role in saving lives. They can call for help, provide first-aid to the injured and even rush them to the nearest hospital, if an ambulance does not arrive in time.
How did India get a Good Samaritan Law?
- In the last ten years, road crashes have killed over 13 lakh people in India.
- According to the Law Commission of India, 50% of these victims died of preventable injuries and could have been saved if they had received care on time.
- The role of the bystander is critical in providing emergency care to the victim. Yet, in India, bystanders have been hesitant to help the injured for fear of legal repercussions and procedural hassles.
How will a Good Samaritan be protected?
At Police Station
- A Good Samaritan will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury or death of the victim
- Good Samaritan who informs police or emergency service regarding an injured person not to be compelled to reveal his personal details
- Disciplinary action against public officials who coerce Good Samaritan to reveal his personal details
At the hospital
- Good Samaritan not to be forced to reveal his/her personal details: Disclosure of personal information including for the Medico Legal Case (MLC) Form to be made optional and voluntary
- Good Samaritans not to be forced to bear the initial cost of treatment: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to issue guidelines that no public or private hospital can demand payment for registration and admissions costs from the Good Samaritans
- Hospitals cannot refuse treatment to a victim: Lack of response by a doctor in an emergency situation to be considered as a “Professional Misconduct” and disciplinary action shall be taken against such a doctor (as per Indian Medical Council Regulations, 2002)
At the Judiciary
- The Good Samaritan can choose to be an eyewitness and cannot be compelled
- Eye witness to be examined in a single occasion
- Examination of an eye witness to be either through:
- Section 284 CrPC: Allows examination of a witness through a commission
- Section 296 CrPC: Allows evidence to be given through an affidavit
- Video conferencing may be used for examination of a Good Samaritan
- They will be exempted from repeated attendance in courts and police stations, and in case attendance is mandatory, expenses of such “running around to courts and police stations” will be taken care through the proposed Good Samaritan Fund.
Sharp decline in Centre’s funding to rural local bodies
- The central government which has been making hectic preparations for celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary on Tuesday, seems to have dried up funds for the panchayat raj institutions (PRIs) that Gandhi considered major institutions for village development.
- The Centre’s funding for PRIs declined sharply from a high point of 48.45% in 1997-98 to 4.87% in 2015-16, while the Karnataka government’s share increased manifold from 55.29% to 95.13% during the same period, according to the study ‘Karnataka State’s fiscal transfers to local bodies: the current status and the State’s fiscal capacity’ conducted by K. Gayithri, professor, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru.
- Out of the allocated funds of Rs. 26,576 crore in 2015-16, the Centre’s allocation was just about Rs. 1,350 crore and rest by the State government. Total allocation for PRIs in 2016-17 was Rs. 29,558 crore.
- The 14th Finance Commission recommendation to increase the share of States in Central taxes to 42% from the previous 32% and restructuring of the Centrally sponsored schemes by the Modi government were major reasons for the drastic reduction in allocation of funds by the Centre to the PRIs, said the study, sponsored by the Fourth State Finance Commission of the Karnataka government.
- Devolution of funds to local bodies depends on the State’s overall fiscal position.
- On an average, rural local bodies account for a much larger share with 85%, while the ULBs account for 15% share in the total.
- A huge amount of outlay was being accrued to the taluk panchayats (TPs) followed by the zilla panchayats (ZPs) and gram panchayats (GPs). The share of the former two-tiers has declined over the period.
- The own resource mobilisation by the PRIs has had an absolute increase from Rs. 111.96 crore in 2004-05 to Rs. 228.84 crore in 2015-16.
- However, its share in the total resources has not only been abysmally low, it declined further from 1.14 % to 0.89 % during the period.
- The allocation to local bodies as a percent share in GSDP declined from 4.89% in 1998-99 to 4.5% in 2015-16 and dropped further to 3.18% in 2016-17, it said.
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