In our over crowded cities, road accidents have taken the form of an epidemic. Every 12 minutes, an Indian dies on the road and 10 times that number gets injured. In such circumstances, the role of driver, co-driver involved in accident and doctors and medical institutions attending the injured becomes important. As the first few moments after the accident, termed as “Golden Hours,” are very precious and crucial. Many lives can be saved and disabilities can be prevented by providing immediate treatment to accident victims. But this happens rarely in reality, as “prompt” medical attention is available only to a “lucky” few.
This comes in the wake of Supreme Court directives, which are very clear in the case of Pt Parmanand Katara vs Union of India in 1989, where the Supreme Court by adding a new Section 134 observed that the driver/co-driver of the motor vehicle responsible for a road accident is required to take all reasonable steps to secure medical attention for the injured person by conveying him to the nearest medical practitioner or hospital, unless it is not practicable to do so on account of mob fury or any other reason beyond his control.
Failure on the part of a driver of the vehicle involved in the accident taking the victim to nearest hospital or hospital doctors providing timely medical treatment to that victim results in violation of victim’s “Right to Life,” guaranteed under Article 21. This new Motor Vehicles Act 1988 Section 134 clearly states “…….it shall be the duty of driver/co-driver of the motor vehicle responsible for a road accident to take the injured to nearby hospital and every registered medical practitioner or the doctor on duty in that hospital immediately to attend to the injured person and render medical aid or treatment without waiting for any procedural formalities.” Failure in this regard is punishable under Section 187 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
The recent Ghat ki Guni tunnel accident, which killed a mother and her girl child by a truck driver has invoked the issue again. The better part is that the truck driver has now been arrested after he fleeing away from the spot is now being prosecuted under Section 134, which perhaps is the first ever prosecution of this particular section besides few other sections of IPC imposed on him.
But, things should not end here as the maximum punishment, which is ought to be given to truck driver under Section 187 will be three months imprisonment and Rs 500 as fine but as there were by passers also during the time of this accident, which included govt. run low-floor and roadways bus and a govt. permitted passenger mini-bus as reported in Rajasthan Patrika of 18th April, 2013, who did not even dare to stop and take the victims to nearby hospitals but these buses with passengers preferred to run away from the spot without stopping.
The issue is that accountability needs to be set on these kinds of by-passers also, which requires a little amendment in Section 134. Besides, a mass awareness on this section is also deemed mandatory. Alas, had the drivers of these buses stopped and helped victims reach to any nearby hospital, the two lives could have saved.
For more information, please contact:
Deepak Saxena (+91- 9351366827)
CUTS Center for Consumer Action, Research & Training (CUTS- CART)
277, Sindhi Colony, Bhaskar Marg, Bani Park
Jaipur 302 016, India
Ph: 91.141.2282 062, 2282 823/2282 482