'Never visualized': Supreme Court hints at CAG probe in fake COVID-19 death claims

IANSUpdated: Monday, March 14, 2022, 01:26 PM IST
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Supreme Court | PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reiterated its concern regarding fake claims for Covid death compensation, and added it may direct a probe by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in this matter.

The top court suggested that inquiry into alleged fake death claims could be entrusted to the Auditor general office.

A bench comprising Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna said: "We never visualized that this kind of fake claims could come. It's a pious world. We never thought this scheme could be misused".

The bench added that if some officers are also involved in it, then it is "very serious". Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal pointed out at the Section 52 in the Disaster Management Act, which addresses such concerns. Justice Shah said: "we need somebody to file a complaint".

A counsel suggested to do random examination of the compensation claims by the state legal services authorities. On the aspect of compensation to children, the top court clarified that ex gratia payment of Rs 50,000, ordered by it, is to be paid for each death due to Covid-19 and not to each child of the affected family.

On March 7, the Supreme Court expressed concern at doctors issuing fake medical certificates to people for claiming ex-gratia compensation for Covid deaths, and added that it might order a probe into the matter.

The Centre had submitted that an outer-limit may be fixed for submitting Covid death related claims, otherwise the process will become endless, and added that some state governments have come across fake medical certificates issued by doctors. Mehta also pointed out that the apex court's order on ex-gratia compensation, through a doctor's certificate, has been misused in certain cases.

Expressing concern on fake medical certificates, the bench said: "What is worrying is the fake certificate given by doctors... ". The bench added, "it is a very serious thing".

The top court also agreed with Mehta's submissions that there should be a time limit for registering Covid death claims. The bench said: "There must be some time-limit, otherwise the process will go endlessly....".

The top court is hearing a plea filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal in connection with the disbursal of ex-gratia compensation by state governments to the families of Covid victims. The top court is monitoring the disbursal of Rs 50,000 ex-gratia for Covid-19 deaths by various state governments.

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