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SC directs NDMA to pay ex gratia to kin of Covid victims (The Tribune news)

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SC directs NDMA to pay ex gratia to kin of Covid victims (The Tribune news) Empty SC directs NDMA to pay ex gratia to kin of Covid victims (The Tribune news)

Post by Seva Lamberdar Wed Jun 30, 2021 6:57 am

Tribune News Service (New Delhi; June 30, 2021):

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to pay an ex-gratia compensation to the kin of those who died due to Covid, saying the authority is statutorily mandated to provide minimum relief, including ex-gratia to the victims of the pandemic.

Holding that by not providing an ex-gratia amount, the NDMA had failed in discharging its statutory duty, a Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan directed the NDMA to determine in six weeks the ex-gratia amount to be paid to the family of each Covid victim.

The Bench - which also included Justice MR Shah - asked the Centre to frame guidelines for payment of ex gratia to the families of those who died due to the pandemic.

However, it said it would not be proper for the court to direct a particular amount to be paid.

It ordered the Centre to issue appropriate guidelines to simplify issuance of death certificates in deaths due to Covid or complications related to it.

The court asked the Centre to take into consideration the recommendations made by the 16th Finance Commission Report with regard to insurance scheme.
India has recorded nearly 3.98 lakh deaths due to Covid which was declared a disaster under the Disaster Management Act. With around 900 deaths taking place daily even now, the total death toll is expected to go up further.

The order came on PILs seeking an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the kin of those who lost their lives due to Covid pandemic.

The Centre had opposed it, contending that giving an ex-gratia amount of Rs 4 lakh (Rs. 4,00,000) each to kin of Covid victims wasn't possible due to limited resources as it would affect pandemic response on other aspects, leading to more damage than good.

"Already the finances of state governments and the Central government are under severe strain, due to the reduction in tax revenues and increase in health expenses on account of the pandemic," the Ministry of Home Affairs had said in an affidavit filed in the top court.

It had also cautioned the court against stepping into the domain of the executive as it might have unintended constitutional ramifications.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said it was not the case of the government that it had no funds. “The question is how to utilise the funds,” he said, adding an insurance scheme would be the best way to handle such situations created by a pandemic.

However, the top court dismissed the Centre's argument that no such ex gratia can be paid.

It interpreted Section 12 of the DM Act to conclude that it was mandatory on the part of the government to pay an ex-gratia to the families of Covid victims.

Senior advocate SB Upadhyay had submitted that financial constraints could not be used to evade constitutional obligations of the state.

Highlighting that many families had lost their "sole bread earner", petitioners Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal had contended that under Section 12(iii) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, every family whose member died due to disaster was entitled to ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh.
However, the Centre had said the entire amount of the State Disaster Relief Fund would end up being utilised for such payments, if such payments were made.

>>> How many other Govts. in the world (including U.S.A., U.K., Brazil, France, China, Russia, Italy etc.) have ex gratia compensations to families of COVID victims?
Seva Lamberdar
Seva Lamberdar

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Join date : 2012-11-29

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