Supreme Court to order ex gratia payment to relatives of those who died of COVID-19


The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to take the lead and rally efforts to compensate families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, after noting that some states have responded lukewarmly to humanitarian action.

A bench of judges, MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna, told the states that many of these families were economically disadvantaged. They may have been further crippled by the fact that COVID-19 took away their only breadwinner.

The court said the payment of ₹50,000 each ex gratia to relatives of each COVID-19 patient was a welfare gesture, and therefore essential to a welfare state. Delays and red tape in releasing the money or processing the application did not bode well. Additionally, claims for compensation should not be dismissed solely on the basis of technical issues. Every reason for denying a claim should be recorded, he noted.

“Reaching the Children”

The court ordered states to reach out especially to children orphaned by the pandemic whose contact details were uploaded to the Bal Swaraj portal of the National Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights (NCPCR).

The Commission, through its web portal, identifies and collects information across the country on children orphaned, abandoned or left with a parent as a result of the pandemic.

The bench said states should take advantage of the portal and use the available information to identify and pay the children the ex gratia amount of ₹50,000.

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During the hearing, after a brief discussion with Judge Khanna, Judge Shah told the lawyers present “we have decided to intervene directly and ensure that the payments are made”. He said the court would issue an order in the coming days to compel state and district legal services authorities to act as a “mediator.” “During the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, the High Court involved the legal services authorities as an ombudsman to identify and compensate the victims,” ​​he observed.

The court said it would intervene in each state where compensation claims received were lower than deaths recorded. He indicated that he would, in his draft order, direct state and district legal departments in those states to obtain contact information for all such claimants to facilitate the payment of the ex gratia amount.

convene the chief secretaries

Earlier in the day, the court summoned the chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar for non-payment of compensation to victims’ relatives. “It’s unfortunate that we have to call state after state like this… Every state thinks the people are at their mercy,” he said.

In the post-lunch session, however, Andhra Pradesh’s chief secretary said the state had received 49,292 compensation claims, of which 31,000 were deemed eligible. Bihar had also received over 10,000 compensation claims.

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The hearing saw the bench ask Gujarat why 4,000 ex gratia claims had been rejected. In Kerala, the court noted that only 27,000 applications were received while there were 49,000 deaths. Maharashtra informed the court that it had paid compensation to over a million people.

Even in earlier hearings, the court had expressed concern over why there was only a trickle of compensation claimants. In fact, he had prepared a questionnaire for the states which included the number of deaths registered in each state, the number of claims received by them individually, the compensation paid so far, whether a grievance committee in each district had been constituted? She had also asked States whether online portals for the payment of compensation were created or not.

The tribunal had approved the revised and simplified compensation payment model adopted by Gujarat. He had said that the same model could be applied throughout the country.


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