- The case was heard by the supreme court’s vacation bench on Monday, but reserved the decision.
- The Centre has previously told the court that awarding ₹ 4 lakh to the relatives of Covid victims would put state governments’ finances under severe strain.
- The Supreme Court has ordered the government to simplify the process of issuing death certificates.
The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its decision on the petitions seeking orders that ex-gratia compensation of ₹ 4 lakh be provided to the relatives who have die of COVID-19.
For about two hours, a special vacation bench consisting of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah heard Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, senior counsel S B Upadhyay, and other lawyers.
The Supreme Court ordered the parties to present written submissions within three days and specifically requested the Centre to streamline the process of issuing death certificates to COVID-19 victims’ dependents.
The Centre had previously informed the Supreme Court that the ex-gratia compensation of ₹ 4 lakh could not be provided to the relatives of those who died as a result of COVID-19 since state governments’ and the Centre’s finances are both in dire straits.
The Ministry of Home Affairs argued in an affidavit filed with the Supreme Court that it had taken many steps to provide “Minimum Standard Relief” under section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, including improving health, infrastructure, and ensuring food safety for all citizens.
One of the petitioners in the case, Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, stated that under section 12(iii) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, every family whose member perished as a result of a disaster is entitled to ex-gratia compensation of 4,00,000.
He had contended that since COVID-19 was deemed a disaster, every family whose member died as a result of the disaster is entitled to ex-gratia compensation of ₹ 4 lakh, as per a decision dated April 8, 2015.
Another petitioner, Reepak Kansal, had stated that a substantial number of deaths have occurred as a result of COVID-19, and that death certificates must be given before affected family members can seek compensation under section 12 (iii) of the Act.
Mr Kansal stated in his petition that states should be directed to fulfil their obligations to care for COVID-19 victims and their families.