New Delhi [India], February 4 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday directed all states governments and Union Territories to appoint dedicated nodal officers, not below the rank of Deputy Secretary in the Chief Minister's Secretariat, to coordinate with the member secretary of the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) to facilitate payment of ex-gratia compensation to family members of COVID-19 victims.
A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said the nodal officer to ensure all eligible claimants apply for ex-gratia compensation.
It also directed the state governments to give full particulars like name, address and death certificate to the concerned SLSA, and also complete details with respect to orphans, within one week from today, and failure to do so would entail serious consequences.
The top court said that the endeavour of legal services authority would be to reach those sufferers or victims who have yet not been approached for whatever reasons.
"We also direct the concerned state governments to appoint a dedicated officer, not below the rank of deputy secretary in Chief Minister Secretariat, who shall be in constant touch with the member secretary of the state legal service authority so that he may coordinate with him and see to it that the applications are received from eligible persons. The endeavour of state legal services authorities would be to reach those victims who have not yet approached for whatever reason," the bench stated in its order.
It also expressed displeasure that the information received from the state legal services authorities, none of the state governments has provided the requisite particulars, but only the statistics which do not reflect the ground realities.
On January 19, the bench had directed the state governments to share particulars with respect to the COVID-19 deaths registered with it and the particulars of the application received and disbursals made along with the particulars uploaded in the Bal Swaraj Portal.
During the hearing today, the bench said that being a welfare State, the payment of ex-gratia compensation is not a charity, but the duty of the state governments, which needs to be disbursed at the earliest.
It reiterated that applications seeking compensation should not be rejected on technical grounds and if any technical glitch is found, the states concerned should give them the opportunity to cure defects as the ultimate goal of the welfare state is to provide some solace and compensation to victims.
On the previous hearing, the apex court had ordered the states to reach out especially to children orphaned by the COVID-19 pandemic and pay compensation to them.
It had told the States that many of these families were economically challenged and they may have been further crippled by the fact that COVID-19 took away their sole breadwinner.
The apex court was hearing a petition filed by lawyer-cum-petitioner, Gaurav Kumar Bansal, seeking an ex-gratia compensation for those family members, who died due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the top court had approved the Centre's disaster management guidelines on payment of Rs 50,000 ex-gratia compensation to the next kin of those who died of COVID-19 deaths and said the money to be disbursed within 30 days of applying. (ANI)