Published: 30th June 2021
Supreme Court directs Centre to frame guidelines to pay ex-gratia to kin of COVID-19 victims
The apex court also said in its judgement that the NDMA is statutorily mandated to provide the minimum amount of relief, including an ex-gratia amount to COVID victims' families
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to frame guidelines to grant ex-gratia compensation to families of those who lost their loved ones to COVID-19.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, in its judgement, directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to ascertain within six weeks whether the ex-gratia amount can be paid to the family members of the victims.
The apex court also said in its judgement that the NDMA is statutorily mandated to provide the minimum amount of relief, including an ex-gratia amount to COVID victims' families.
If it (NDMA) fails to provide ex-gratia amount of compensation, then it has failed in discharging its statutory duty, the apex court said in its judgement.
The top court passed the judgement after hearing petitions filed by two lawyers - Gaurav Bansal and Reepak Kansal.
The lawyer duo had moved the apex court seeking direction to the authorities concerned to provide ex-gratia monetary compensation of Rs 4 lakhs (notified in the financial aid) to the family members of the deceased, succumbed to COVID-19, as per a letter from the Union Home Ministry in view of Section 12 of The Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Kansal in his petition sought immediate appropriate directions to the concerned authorities to pay financial help as laid down by the Central Government in its statute and rules to the family members of the deceased.
"It is the right of family members to know the real cause of death of their family member/relative on any official document," said Kansal, while citing the grounds that medical officers have not been conducting post mortem of the persons who died due to COVID-19.
Kansal approached the Supreme Court seeking directions to the respondent states to issue death certificates/any letter to the families of deceased stating therein cause of death.
The Centre issued a revised list and norms of assistance from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) through its MHA letter and recommended ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakhs per deceased person, the petitioner, Kansal claimed in his petition filed before the apex court.
The petitioner also sought the issuance of direction to respondents and respective state governments to fulfil their obligation to take care of victims of the calamity and their family members.
He also sought the top court's intervention and appropriate direction to state governments to issue official documents stating the cause of death to the family members of deceased COVID patients.