The Supreme Court of India on Monday, 16 August 2021, granted four weeks more time to the government of India to frame the guidelines on ex-gratia assistance and compensation to the families of people who died due to COVID-19.
A division bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, and comprising Justice M R Shah ordered the Centre to submit any action report on the other guidelines as referred to in the earlier judgment authored by Justice Shah and comprising of Justice (Now Retired) Ashok Bhushan, on June 30 this year. The Centre had filed an application before the SC seeking an extension of time to comply with the earlier decision pronounced by Justice Bhushan.
"An extension of four weeks is being granted for framing of guidelines as directed in the judgment of June 30, 2021, with regards to other guidelines an action is taken report may be submitted except for 16(1)," the bench said today.
The Supreme Court in its judgment on June 30, had directed the Government of India to frame guidelines to pay ex gratia compensation to the families of those who died due to COVID-19.
A three-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, in its judgment, had on June 30, 2021, 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 those who died due to COVID-19.
The Apex Court also maintained in its judgment that the NDMA is statutorily mandated to provide the minimum amount of relief, including ex-gratia amount of compensation to the COVID victims. If the NDMA fails in not providing ex-gratia amount of compensation, then it has failed in discharging its statutory duty, the Apex Court said in its judgment on Monday. The Top Court had passed the judgment on June 30, 2021, after hearing the petitions filed by two lawyers, Gaurav Bansal and Deepak Kansal.
The lawyers had moved the Apex Court seeking direction to the authorities concerned, to provide ex gratia monetary compensation of Rs 4 lakh (notified in the financial aid) to the family members of the deceased, succumbed to COVID-19, as per MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) letter in view of Section 12 of The Disaster Management Act, 2005. The petitioners, in their pleas, had 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, who succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawyers had said that "it is the right of the family members to know the real cause of death of their family member, relative on any official document," and they cited the ground that "the medical officers have not been conducting post mortem of the persons who are dying due to COVID-19." The petitioners had approached the Supreme Court seeking directions to the respondent States to issue death certificates or any letter to the families of deceased stating therein cause of death.
The plea also stated that keeping in view the spread of COVID-19 virus in India and the declaration of COVID- 19, as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), by way of special onetime dispensation, it has been decided to treat it as notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under the SDRF (State Disaster Response Force).
India on Monday reported 32,937 daily new COVID cases in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, the country recorded its lowest tally of weekly COVID-19 cases in five months since mid-March, with less than 2.6 lakh infections reported between August 9-15, a drop of 6.7% from the previous week.
(With Inputs from ANI)