Bombay HC Irked At Govt “Insensitive” Stand For Refusing Compensation To Kin Of Covid Warrior

Bombay HC Irked At Govt “Insensitive” Stand For Refusing Compensation To Kin Of Covid Warrior

The HC was hearing a petition by Anita’s husband Sudhakar Pawar challenging the November 2023 order passed by the government rejecting his application seeking compensation

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 04:09 PM IST
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Bombay HC | File Image

Mumbai: Terming the state government’s stand as “insensitive”, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday took it to task for refusing Rs50 lakh compensation to the husband of a nurse who lost her life to Covid-19 while treating patients during the pandemic while working in a state-run hospital.  The court said that the government had passed the order rejecting compensation without applying its mind, while noting that Anita Rathod (Pawar) belonged to a team of health warriors who had risked their lives to look after Covid patients at the Sassoon Hospital in Pune


The HC was hearing a petition by Anita’s husband Sudhakar Pawar challenging the November 2023 order passed by the government rejecting his application seeking compensation. “How can you be so insensitive? The deceased was a nurse actively treating patients suffering from Covid-19. How can such a case be rejected? These matters need to be handled with more care,” said a bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla. During the Covid-19 period, Anita was part of the Covid-19 warriors team that was actively treating patients infected with coronavirus at the hospital, the petition said.

The story of pandemic phase

In April 2020, during the peak of the pandemic, she was too infected with the virus and she lost her life, it added. In May 2020, the state government had issued a Government Resolution (GR) introducing a comprehensive personal accident cover of Rs 50 lakh to its employees who are on active duty relating to survey, tracing, tracking, testing, prevention, and treatment and relief activities.  Pawar’s plea contended that the government rejected his application for compensation on the ground that his wife's health was poor even before she got Covid-19.


The court, however, took note of the medical report which stated that she was in “excellent state of health but was under extreme stress while treating Covid inpatients”. She had also been declared a Covid martyr by the Hospital and Trained Nurses Association of India.  “In these circumstances, she appears to have sacrificed her life working for patients and suffering prolonged hours from duty,” Justice Kulakrni said. The judges said that prima facie Pawar was entitled to compensation. “Prima facie the order passed by the government rejecting compensation is patently without application of mind. It appears that the petitioner was entitled to the benefits,” the bench said. 

HC has kept the matter for hearing after two weeks

“We have perused GR. It appears to be clear that requirement is not what has been set out in the impugned order. In fact, eligibility would be in relation to a person who had expired and when admittedly rendering services as specified. Prima facie the impugned order is patently without application of mind. Petitioner was entitled for compensation,” the bench noted in its order. 

When the state advocate submitted that the compensation was sought under the Centre’s scheme of the Pradhan Mantri Yojna and not under the state GR, the judges pointed out that the central government had allocated funds for state governments under the said scheme. “How can you be so insensitive? Do not take objections which are untenable and wrong. Even our high court staff were compensated under the scheme. Do not have technical arguments when it comes to someone who has expired like this,” Justice Kulkarni said.  The court has directed the government to file its affidavit explaining why the order rejecting compensation to Pawar should not be quashed. The HC has kept the matter for hearing after two weeks. 

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