Is there an SOP for road accident cases? Delhi HC asks police
The petitioner claimed, after the incident, the investigating officer of the Delhi Police admittedly did not submit the blood sample of the driver for testing for three months, which resulted in denial of a fair trial, and sought compensation from the authorities for failing to perform their duties.
The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the city police commissioner to inform it about whether there is a standard operating procedure (SOP) that is followed by police in road accident cases. Justice Prathiba M Singh, who was dealing with a petition by a woman over the death of her 26-year-old son in an alleged drunk and driving accident in 2017, granted six weeks to the Delhi police chief for placing the SOP on record. The petitioner claimed, after the incident, the investigating officer of the Delhi Police admittedly did not submit the blood sample of the driver for testing for three months, which resulted in denial of a fair trial, and sought compensation from the authorities for failing to perform their duties. The judge asked the respondent authorities to place on record any scheme or policy which they may have for awarding compensation as being sought by the petitioner.
“Before proceeding further (in the case), the court directs the Commissioner of Police - respondent no 2 to place on record any SOP which the police follows in respect of accident cases, either in case of injury or death. The said SOP be placed on record within 6 weeks. Also, the respondent no 1 (Delhi government) or 2 shall place on record any scheme or policy which they may have for awarding compensation which is sought by the petitioner,” the court said. The counsel for the petitioner said that apart from failing to get the blood sample of the driver in time, the police also did not take the requisite CCTV footage of the accident. The court observed the police need to have an SOP for their officials to follow in such cases and the agency may need to have its own lab for carrying out blood tests. “They (police) need to have an SOP whenever such a drunk drive accident happens. If they have a procedure and they are trained, they will know that I have to take CCTV (footage)…take sample to lab in 24 hours, that SOP needs to be there. I want to know if Delhi Police has one. Maybe the police needs to have its own lab because there are so many samples,” the court said. The petitioner's lawyer said while the failure of the investigating officer (IO) has impacted the parent's right to fair trial, the official has been let off only with a warning. “They have to be held answerable... My son's killer, as I would call him, would have gone (to jail) for 7 years (but) now he's gone for 2 years in a simple rash driving instead of drunken driving,” the lawyer argued. “I am seeking action against the IO. He has only been warned (pursuant to a show cause issued to him by the department). I have lost my son here and the IO has been let off with just a warning. My first prayer is please take strict action against the IO and second prayer is that of punitive damages,” she further said. The counsel for the Delhi Police informed the court that the IO has since retired. The matter will be heard next on April 19.
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