Bombay HC Raps ‘Insensitive’ Govt For Refusing Ex-Gratia To Kin Of COVID-19 Martyr

Bombay HC Raps ‘Insensitive’ Govt For Refusing Ex-Gratia To Kin Of COVID-19 Martyr

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

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 08:59 PM IST
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Bombay HC | File Image

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday termed the state government’s stand as “insensitive” for refusing Rs50 lakh compensation to the husband of a nurse, Anita Pawar who worked at Pune's Sassoon Hospital and lost her life to Covid while treating patients during the pandemic. The government refused to give relief, stating that Pawar's health was poor even before she contracted the virus in April 2020.

The HC was hearing a petition by Pawar’s husband, Sudhakar, challenging the November 2023 order passed by the government rejecting his application seeking compensation. Pulling up the government, the HC said that it had passed the order without applying its mind.

The court underlined that the deceased, who was declared a Covid martyr by the Hospital and Trained Nurses Association of India, belonged to a team of health warriors who had risked their lives to look after Covid patients.

Rejecting the government's stance that Pawar was ailing even before contracting the infection, the HC considered the medical report which stated that she was in “excellent state of health but was under extreme stress while treating Covid patients”. The court said, “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.”

The deceased was a nurse actively treating patients suffering from Covid. How can such a case be rejected? These matters need to be handled with more care. She (the nurse) appears to have sacrificed her life working for patients and suffering prolonged hours from duty said a bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla.

In May 2020 when the pandemic was raging, 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.

“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,” the bench noted in its order.

When the state advocate submitted that the compensation was sought under the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Yojna and not under the state GR, the judges pointed out that the central government had allocated funds for states under the said scheme.

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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