The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to frame guidelines on ex-gratia compensation for families of those who died due to COVID-19.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to frame guidelines on the ex-gratia compensation within six weeks from today.
The bench was hearing a case of Gaurav Kumar Bansal vs Union of India and Reepak Kansal vs Union of India and others when they delivered the verdict.
The Apex Court said that it cannot direct the Union Government to pay a particular amount as compensation. The Court has directed the National Authority to frame guidelines within 6 weeks on providing ex-gratia assistance to COVID victims.
The petitioners in their writ petition had sought direction from the Supreme Court to direct the Centre and States to provide ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the family members of those who succumbed to COVID-19 disease and post-COVID complications.
“There is a duty cast on the national authority to prescribe minimum standards of relief. There is nothing on record that National Authority has issued any guidelines for minimum standards of relief for Covid victims, which shall include ex-gratia assistance for COVID. The national authority has failed to perform its statutory duty under Section 12 by failing to recommend minimum relief for ex-gratia assistance”, the Supreme Court said.
The Centre had recently told the Supreme Court that ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh cannot be paid since the government’s finances are under strain.
“It is an unfortunate but important fact that the resources of the governments have limits and any additional burden through ex-gratia will reduce the funds available for other health and welfare schemes,” the affidavit filed by the Centre said.
The court also directed that simplified guidelines be framed for issuance of death certificates/ official documents stating the exact cause of death.