New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed state governments to disburse Rs 50,000 to family members of those who succumbed to COVID-19 while follow the Centre's guidelines for paying ex-gratia. The apex court also asked the Centre and states to publicise the scheme.
A bench, headed by Justice M.R. Shah, said no state government should deny the Rs 50,000 benefit on the ground that cause of death on the death certificate is not COVID-19 and the district authorities should take remedial steps to have the cause of death corrected.
The bench, also comprising Justice A S Bopanna, added that the ex-gratia assistance should continue to be provided for deaths, which occur post the date of judgment.
The top court said the grievance redressal committee can examine medical records of the deceased patient and take a call within 30 days on the compensation. In cases where death certificates have already been issued and the family members are aggrieved by cause of death mentioned on them, then they may approach the committee and submit documents seeking modification on the certificate.
The top court said that this Rs 50,000 amount will be over and above the amounts paid by the Centre and states under various benevolent schemes.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines, Rs 50,000 ex-gratia assistance will be paid to the families of those who died due to COVID-19 by the states from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
The top court order came on an application seeking compliance of June 30 judgment, where directions were issued to the NDMA to frame guidelines to grant compensation to the families of those who died due to COVID-19, and the Centre was also directed to issue guidelines to simplify the process of issuance of death certificates in COVID-19 cases.
The Centre has filed a compliance affidavit, where it informed the top court about the NDMA guidelines framed to fix the ex-gratia at Rs 50,000 and also guidelines framed to simplify the process of issuing death certificates.
The top court's June 30 judgment came on PILs which were filed by advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal seeking court's intervention for payment of Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia amount to the COVID-19 victims' families.
The Supreme Court in September said it is "very happy" with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines for providing Rs 50,000 ex-gratia assistance to the kin of those who succumbed to COVID-19.
The Centre has already approved release of the second installment of its share of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) amounting to Rs 7,274.40 crore, in advance, to 23 states.
According to a Union home ministry statement, five states have already been released in advance the second installment amounting to Rs 1,599.20 crore. The central government had issued an order on September 25, revising the items and norms of assistance under the SDRF, making therein a provision for grant of ex-gratia payment to the next of kin of the deceased due to COVID-19.