The Crime rate in India is growing at an alarming rate but most of them are unreported because of the social stigma attached to it and the low awareness among people about their rights. When someone is a victim of a crime, the first thing that they must do is to approach the nearest Police Station and inform the police of the attack/crime. The police, on receiving the information, prepares a written document stating the facts and this report is known as a First Information Report (FIR)[i]. The duty of the police lies in hearing the aggrieved and directing him to the District Magistrate for further action. An FIR can be filed by the person against whom the crime has been committed or a person who is aware of an offence that has been committed. An FIR is also necessary when there has been any incident like a vehicular accident where harm or damage has been caused either to a person or to property. Sometimes, however, the victim of a criminal offence or accident is grievously injured and needs immediate medical care. In these situations, it is the duty of anyone around or the police authorities to ensure that the victim is taken to the nearest hospital and provided first aid.
Procedure to file an FIR
Since a First Information Report is so important and crucial to any incident, it is the duty of every person to be aware of the procedure to file an FIR and the information that must be provided. Here are a few steps to follow[ii]:
1. Fill the FIR as soon as the incident takes place but if there is a delay, it must be mentioned.
2. If provided orally, all the information must be recorded in writing and explained by the officer in charge at a Police Station within the jurisdiction of whichthe offence has taken place.
3. There should be four copies recorded and it must be in first person.
4. Avoid complicated, technical words, terminologies and unnecessary details.
5. It must contain authentic information like, who is providing the information and the relationship between him and the victim, who the perpetrator of the crime is, who the victim is, when the crime was committed, what was the loss or damage caused and if there were any witnesses.
6. The document must be read and signed after filing it out and it must be recorded in the book maintained for this purpose by the State Government.
7. A copy of the FIR can be provided if you ask for it and it can be filed out free of charge.
Process of reporting an incident and providing first aid
When any accident or crime occurs the first thing that must be done is to contact the local police authorities so that they are aware of the incident and they arrive at the scene to document the situation and record statements from the witnesses. The report by the police is also necessary to claim insurance in case of a vehicular accident[iii]. Sometimes, the injured person might need medical attention before the police arrive but if they are not grievously hurt, they can be helped by providing simple first aid. The first things to do if someone is injured are[iv]:
- Assessing the airways by checking if they are responsive and if not, opening the airway by tilting the person’s head gently while placing a hand on their forehead
- Assessing breathing by looking at whether the chest is rising and falling or by listening over their mouth and nose for breathing sounds
- Assessing circulation of the injured person if he or she is not breathing properly
- Starting chest compressions if breathing is abnormal
The importance of providing first aid was discussed in the case of Pt. Parmanand Katara v. Union of India[v] where the Supreme Court held that it is the duty of every person, especially medical practitioners, to protect the life of a person whether innocent or guilty so that that innocent can be protected and the guilty punished. This judgement shows the importance of medical care given to an injured person and because of this, it is a common practice that the person who is hurt be tended to before an FIR is filed. However, in cases of sexual violence, it is expressly mentioned in the Code of Criminal Procedure[vi] that medical attention should be provided to the victim as soon as she is found and these patients are also given priority in the emergency rooms in hospitals[vii].
Legal Status of those who provide first aid
Any person can provide first aid but not everyone is trained to provide appropriate first aid and it can be difficult to absolve yourself from liability if anything goes wrong. There is no statutory responsibility on anyone to provide first aid to an injured person but under common law, which has developed over the years, the life of a person has been legally quantified and there is a duty to protect it. However, when an injured person is treated, the person providing first aid takes responsibility for both the injured person and also their actions. If the person treated has experienced damage or loss (i.e. an injury) they are entitled to make a claim against the person who provided first aid and if the injured person does not survive, the claim may come from their family. The first claim that can be lodged is on the grounds of battery for trespass against a person’s body which includes even a light touch[viii]. Therefore, the contact involved in providing first aid can be construed as battery especially if the victim is unconscious or unable to give consent. The second ground to file a complaint is that of negligence by claiming that the person providing first aid did not follow a standard of care that should be followed by a prudent and reasonable man. Since it is necessary to establish a duty of care to bring a claim for negligence, the complainant can argue that as soon as the person volunteers to provide first aid, he is assuming a duty of care towards the victim. To protect the people who volunteer to provide first aid to victims, Good Samaritan Laws have been instituted to provide immunity to these people. The purpose of a Good Samaritan Law is to provide legal protection to bystanders who come to the aid and rescue of victims of road crashes so that they are not wrongfully sued in a court of law[ix].
It is essential to provide first aid to victims of an accident or crime so that their lives are saved thereby acting in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution of India which protects the life and liberty of every individual. Due to this emphasis of Article 21, it has also become a common practice to provide medical care whether in the form of first aid or admitting the victim in the nearest hospital, before filing an FIR. Since any ordinary man can provide first aid, they may not always have sufficient knowledge or training, and this can lead to some complications, but the Good Samaritan laws have been put into place for exactly this reason. So, no one should hesitate to offer a helping hand to someone in need because one selfless action can save a life.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[i]Vikram Shah, File a Criminal Complaint in India: A step-by-step Process, VakilSearch, (September 16, 2019, 8:56 PM), https://vakilsearch.com/advice/file-a-criminal-complaint-in-india/.
[ii]Reporting a crime: All About Lodging an F.I.R with the Police, Jaagruti, (September 16, 2019, 9:01 PM), https://jaagruti.org/2013/12/13/reporting-a-crime-all-about-lodging-an-f-i-r-with-the-police/.
[iii]What to do after a car accident: A Step-by-Step Guide, AllState, (September 16, 2019, 9:14 PM), https://www.allstate.com/tr/car-insurance/in-case-of-a-car-accident.aspx.
[iv]First Aid, NHSinform, (September 16, 2019, 9:27 PM) https://www.nhsinform.scot/tests-and-treatments/emergencies/first-aid#what-to-do-after-an-incident.
[v] Pt. Parmanand Katara v. Union of India, 1989 SCR (3) 997.
[vi] The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1974, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1972 (India).
[viii]Legal Status of Those Who Provide First Aid, InsureFirstAid, (September 16, 2019, 8:56 PM), http://www.cninetwork.org/uploads/4/9/5/4/4954631/the_legal_status_of_those_who_provide_first_aid.pdf.