New Delhi [India], June 30 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to frame guidelines to pay ex gratia to the families of people who died due to COVID-19.
A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, in its judgement, also directed the NDMA to ascertain within six weeks the amount that can be paid as ex-gratia to the family members of those who died due to COVID-19.
The top court also said in its judgement that the NDMA is statutorily mandated to provide the minimum amount of relief, including ex-gratia to the Covid victims.
"If it (NDMA) fails in not providing ex-gratia amount of compensation, then the NDMA has failed in discharging its statutory duty," the apex court said in its judgement today.
The Supreme Court passed the judgement after hearing the petitions filed by two lawyers, Gaurav Bansal and Reepak Kansal.
The lawyer duo had moved the 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, who succumbed to COVID-19, as per the MHA letter in view of Section 12 of The Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The lawyer-cum-petitioner Reepak Kansal in his petition filed before the Supreme Court, sought immediate and 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 Covid-19 pandemic.
Kansal said, "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 he cited the ground that "the medical officers have not been conducting post mortem of the persons who are dying due to COVID-19."
Kansal has 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 petition said that keeping in view the spread of the COVID-19 virus in India and the declaration of disease 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 State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
"The Central Government had issued a revised list and norms of assistance from 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, Reepak Kansal claimed in his petition filed before the Apex Court.
The petitioner also sought the issuance of directions to respondents, respective state governments to fulfil their obligation to take care of victims of the calamity and their family members.
The petitioner sought the apex court's intervention and sought appropriate direction to the respondent state governments to issue an official document stating the cause of death, to the family members of the deceased who died due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (ANI)