Plea in SC seeks compensation for kin of COVID-19 victims

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New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the central and state governments to provide compensation of Rs four lakh to the families of those who have died due to COVID-19 as provisioned in the Disaster Management Act 2005.

The plea has also sought a direction to the states to issue death certificate or any official document stating the cause of death to be COVID-19.

The petition, filed last week by advocate Reepak Kansal, said that states should be directed to fulfil their obligation to take care of victims of COVID-19 and also their family members.

It said that COVID-19 is a 'notified disaster' and affected persons and their families require assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

The plea alleged that hospitals are not conducting post-mortem of those who are dying due to COVID-19.

It referred to Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act 2005, which said that the national authority shall recommend guidelines for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by disaster, which shall include ex-gratia assistance on account of loss of life.

'The respondents are unjustified in not giving ex-gratia monetary compensation of Rs 4 lakh or notified ex-gratia monetary compensation to the families of deceased who have succumbed to the pandemic of COVID-19 as per MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) letter...dated April 8, 2015...,' the petition said.

The plea, while referring to the April 2015 letter, said the Centre had issued revised list and norms of assistance from SDRF and the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and recommended ex-gratia compensation of Rs four lakh per deceased including those involved in relief operation or associated in preparedness activities, subject to certification regarding cause of death from appropriate authority.

'There is a constitutional and legal obligation on the state and its different organs to take care of victims of the calamity and their family members, in the position of a guardian of parent of the people of the society,” it said.

India's death toll due to the coronavirus rose to 2,66,207 with 3,890 fatalities being recorded in a span of 24 hours, according to official data updated Saturday morning. PTI ABA SMN