The Central government affidavit before the Supreme Court, filed through joint secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Sanjeev Kumar Jindal, on Covid-19 ex gratia by states shows that Andhra Pradesh is the only state that has received double the number of claims at 28,468 forms, than the number of dead officially recorded at 14,431.
During the hearing on Monday, the Supreme Court expressed concern at the low number of claims across most states and Union Territories (UTs).
In Gujarat, where the state government said that 10,092 Covid-19 deaths were recorded, 1,250 claims were received and Rs 1.74 crore was disbursed in 347 cases and another 925 was sanctioned. The Congress has been alleging that three lakh people died of Covid19 in Gujarat. The state government submitted that the official death figure “may change” as per the September 3 guideline of MOHFW “definition of death is broadened”. Rajasthan, too, put out a similar disclaimer of its official deaths (8,955) changing owing to “broadened” definition of death.
States such as Tripura have disbursed ex gratia of Rs 3 lakh each to the kin of 128 victims till December 31, 2020, amounting to Rs 3.84 crore, while Haryana said it had disbursed Rs 15.58 crore.
Tripura, like Gujarat, had earlier said that henceforth it would pay Rs 50,000 in each death case “after inquiry” (which now stands revised, doing away with scrutiny). The state reported 817 Covid-19 deaths as on November 25. Telangana and Tamil Nadu, too, had a checks mechanism for new claims. Telangana stated that it would process the claim after examination by a district level authority, while Tamil Nadu entrusted its district level committee to scrutinise the petitions.
Taking note of the high number of claimants in AP, the Supreme Court recorded in its order on Monday, “It may be because of our earlier order that a claimant can make application for compensation in case the RT-PCR report of the deceased was positive and he died within a period of 30 days, irrespective of the cause mentioned in the death certificate. The number of claimants may increase in other states as well.”
Delhi was the only jurisdiction to admit that while it had officially recorded 25,095 deaths as Covid deaths as of November 23, another 5,922 deaths would qualify as COvid deaths under the expanded definition as per Ministry of Health and Welfare issued guidelines and Supreme Court’s order on ex gratia.
The UTs of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, where four Covid deaths were recorded officially, has disbursed the ex gratia to the kin of all four. The UTs submitted that they have a grievance redressal committee at the district level.
Haryana’s scheme has an assistance of Rs 2 lakh provided to BPL families where the deceased was aged between 18 and 50 years and under the different ex gratia schemes, Haryana government has disbursed more than Rs 15.58 crore to the kin of Covid-deceased so far. Assam, too, submitted that it has three schemes existing as relief to next of kin of Covid-19 deceased, including one-time financial assistance of Rs 2.5 lakh to each widow of Covid-19 deceased.
West Bengal was the only state that stated that of 19,407 official Covid deaths, three were inhabitants of other states, although it was not specified if their kin would be eligible for claiming the ex gratia amount from West Bengal.
Even as the Supreme Court directed the Gujarat government to establish an online portal for filing of claims for ease of the claimant, states such as Haryana submitted that an online portal saralharyana.gov.in has been established for filing claims as well as a set-up of a helpline number for assistance in submitting a claim online.
Maharashtra submitted that it has initiated the development of a web-based application for filing of claims through its relief and rehabilitation department. Odisha too has a similar mechanism in place where a claimant can file for ex gratia at caps.odisha.gov.in.
Kerala, where an online portal has been established, has also made “arrangements” for issuing Covid death certificate as stipulated by ICMR “to facilitate the disbursement of ex gratia through another portal” and the Kerala government states that “both these portals are integrated for speedy verification of the claim.” Kerala has recorded 38,737 Covid deaths officially as of November 26.