Let road accident witnesses skip court visit, SC told

New Delhi


The government Tuesday told the Supreme Court that witnesses in road accident cases should not be forced to attend court and allowed to give evidence through affidavits to prevent them from shunning victims to avoid legal wrangles later.

The court also set up a committee headed by former Delhi High Court judge V.S. Aggarwal to give within three months its recommendations for the handling of road accident victims.

In its proposal for the issuance of guidelines on the handling of the road accident victims on national highways, the government told the apex court bench of Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Madan B. Lokur that the procedure of examination of witnesses in courts hearing such cases may be dispensed with.

"Witnesses of road accidents and doctors may be treated as formal witnesses under Section 296 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Direction that their evidence be obtained by way of affidavit and examination be dispensed with unless ordered by court may be passed," the government said.

Section 296 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which deals with formal witnesses reads: "The evidence of any person whose evidence is of a formal character may be given by affidavit and may, subject to all just exceptions, be read in evidence in any inquiry, trial or other proceeding under this code".

The committee set up by the court would include director, AIIMS trauma centre, nominees of the home and health ministries, law and justice secretary or his nominee, Delhi Police joint commissioner of police (traffic), Border Roads Organisation director general or his nominee, representatives of petitioner NGO SaveLife Foundation and St. John’s Ambulance.

Surface transport secretary or his nominee would be the nodal officer of the committee, the court said. - IANS