- Supreme Court of India directs Centre to form guidelines to compensate COVID-19 victims
- The SC has given 6 weeks time to the central government to do so
- Centre has replied to the SC in an affidavit
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of India directed the central government to frame the guidelines to provide a minimum relief to the kin of those who succumbed to the deadly COVID-19, in under 6 weeks.
The Supreme Court said, “The National Disaster Management Authority has a statutory obligation to frame guidelines for minimum ex-gratia assistance for the victims of Covid pandemic,” on Wednesday.
The Court held that the section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, will include an ex-gratia and rejected the central government’s argument that it was not a mandatory provision.
However, the top court also noted that it cannot direct an amount that the Centre will have to pay.
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It stated that NDMA has failed to discharge its functions by not recommending an ex-gratia assistance.
The top court said, “There is a duty cast on the national authority to prescribe minimum standards of relief. There is nothing on record that National Authority has issued any guidelines”.
Earlier in June, the central government had told the apex court that a compensation of ₹ 4 lakh cannot be paid to the families of those who have died of COVID-19 as the finances of state governments and the Centre are under severe strain.
In the affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Union home ministry said that the Centre, through its “minimum standard relief” under section 12 of the DM Act has taken several steps providing for substantial and speedy measures by way of, increase in the health, infrastructure, ensuring food safety to every citizen.
The government had said, “Already the finances of state governments and the central government are under severe strain because of the reduction in tax revenues and increase in health expenses on account of the pandemic.
“Thus, utilization of scarce resources for giving ex-gratia may have the unfortunate consequence of affecting the pandemic response and health expenditure in other aspects and hence cause more damage than good”.
The government also urged the courts to not interfere in its policy decisions.
The petitioners in the case were demanding that a compensation of ₹ 4 lakh should be given to the victims who lost their lives from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
The petitioners also seek relief regarding the simplification of the process for issuance of death certificates of people who lost their lives due to the deadly Coronavirus.