Centre moves SC seeking extension of time for framing guidelines for ex-gratia

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New Delhi, Jul 20 (PTI) The Centre has moved the Supreme Court seeking extension of time granted by the apex court to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to frame guidelines for ex-gratia compensation to families of those who died of COVID-19 by another four weeks.

The apex court had in its June 30 verdict directed NDMA to recommend within six weeks appropriate guidelines for ex-gratia assistance on account of loss of life to the family members of persons who died due to COVID-19.

The Centre in an application said that the exercise which was in active consideration of the NDMA was at an advance stage and requires a little more in-depth examination.

“Applicant (Union of India) respectfully submits that exercise to frame appropriate guidelines for payment of ex-gratia payment to the victims of COVID-19 disaster under section 12 (iii) of the DMA (Disaster Management Act) is in active consideration of the NDMA and going on,” said the plea, drawn by advocate Rajat Nair.

“It is submitted this exercise, though at an active advance stage, requires a little more in-depth examination before the same is finalised and implemented. Any accelerated formulation, in the respectful submission of the applicant, may result into undesirable results,” it said.

The Centre urged the top court to grant another four weeks to frame the guidelines.

In its June 30 verdict, the top court had also ordered steps to simplify guidelines for issuance and correction of “death certificates/official documents stating the exact cause of death, that is, 'Death due to Covid-19'” for enabling dependents to get benefits of welfare schemes.

The apex court, however, had noted the “peculiarity and the impact and effect” of the pandemic and said that it cannot order payment of Rs 4 lakh as ex-gratia compensation which should be decided by the NDMA as there was a need to “focus simultaneously on prevention, preparedness, mitigation and recovery, which calls for a different order of mobilization of both financial and technical resources”.

“We direct the NDMA to recommend guidelines for ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life to the family members of the persons who died due to Covid-19, as mandated under Section 12(iii) of Disaster Management Act (DMA) 2005 for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to the persons affected by disaster – Covid 19 Pandemic, over and above the guidelines already recommended for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by Covid-19,” it had said.

It had also directed the Centre to take appropriate steps on recommendations of the Finance Commission on providing insurance cover for deaths caused by Covid.

The direction had come after the Centre said that presently there was no “guideline/policy/scheme in NDMA which relates to National Insurance mechanism that may be used to pay for disaster related deaths due to COVID”.

The top court's verdict had come on two separate pleas filed by lawyers Reepak Kansal and Gaurav Kumar Bansal seeking directions to the Centre and the states to provide Rs 4 lakh compensation to the families of coronavirus victims as provisioned under the Act. PTI ABA MNL SJK ABA RKS RKS

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