New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday while approving 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, said the money to be disbursed within 30 days of applying.
A Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice AS Bopanna ordered that no state should deny the ex-gratia compensation of Rs 50,000 to the next kin of persons who died of COVID on the sole ground that the death certificate does not mention COVID-19 as the cause of death.
The Bench approved the guidelines issued by the National Disaster Management Authority for grant of compensation in COVID-19 death cases.
The apex court asked the Centre and States to give wide publicity to the ex-gratia scheme.
Next of kin of deceased died due to COVID-19 will get ex gratia of 50,000, which shall be minimum and over and above amounts paid by Centre and State under various schemes, the Bench directed.
The payment will be from State Disaster Relief Funds, it added.
No State shall deny the Rs 50,000 benefit on the ground that cause of death in death certificate is not COVID-19, the Bench ordered, adding that the district authorities to take remedial steps to have the cause of death corrected. District level committee details to be published in print media, it said.
Earlier, the top court had expressed happiness in the Central government’s decision to provide Rs 50,000 as ex-gratia to families of those who died of COVID-19 saying it will bring some solace to the persons who have suffered.
The Central government had informed the top court that the NDMA has recommended an amount of Rs 50,000 as ex-gratia to be paid to families of those who died of COVID-19 including those who were involved in relief operations or associated with preparedness activities subject to the cause of death being certified as COVID 19.
In an affidavit filed before the top court, the Centre has said NDMA had proposed the amount which has to be distributed by State governments from the State Disaster Response Fund.
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.
The top court had directed the Central government to issue simplified guidelines for the issuance of an official document relating to COVID-19 deaths to the family members of the deceased, who died due to coronavirus.
Bansal had moved the apex court seeking direction to the authorities concerned to provide an ex-gratia monetary compensation of Rs 4 lakhs (notified in the financial aid) to the family members of the deceased, succumbed to COVID-19, as per MHA letter in view of Section 12 of The Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The petitioner 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.