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‘We are very happy’: SC appreciates Centre’s decision on ex-gratia for Covid deaths

"Today we are very happy. There will be some solace to the persons who have suffered. Everything the Govt is performing... We're happy that something is being done to wipe out tears of the person who suffered," Justice MR Shah was quoted as saying by Live Law.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: September 23, 2021 6:22:57 pm
NDMA has recommended an ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 for loss of life due to Covid-19 (Express File Photo)

Appreciating Centre’s decision to provide ex-gratia assistance to the kin of people who died of Covid-19, the Supreme Court Thursday said it has to take judicial notice of the fact that “what India has done, no other country could do”.

A bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice AS Bopanna, hearing a batch of petitions filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal and some interveners who lost their family members to coronavirus, observed that the Union government’s step would bring some solace to the persons who have suffered.

“Today we are very happy. There will be some solace to the persons who have suffered. Everything the Govt is performing… We’re happy that something is being done to wipe out tears of the person who suffered,” Justice MR Shah was quoted as saying by Live Law. “We have to take judicial notice of the fact that what India has done, no other country could do,” he added.

The National Disaster Management (NDMA) has recommended an ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 for loss of life due to Covid-19 — an amount that will be provided by states from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) and distributed by the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) or the district administrations.

In guidelines brought out to enable this, the Authority said that the payment, to be paid to the next of kin of the deceased, shall be subject to the cause of death being certified as Covid-19 as per guidelines brought out by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on September 3.

“We cannot repair the loss of life but whatever the country could do for the families who have suffered, is being done,” news agency PTI quoted Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Centre in the apex court, as saying.

The top court also raised concerns over cases in which hospitals do not mention the cause of death as Covid-19, despite the person dying due to post-Covid complications. “Sometimes hospitals behave like a monarch and don’t give medical records to the family members or hand over the dead bodies to them. We have to take care of those people also,” the bench said.

Mehta said in such cases, the next of kin can approach the district level committee, to be formed under the NDMA guidelines, for redressal of grievances over the issuance of the death certificate. The committee can then call for the hospital records, Mehta said. The court said it will pass orders authorising such committees to call for hospital records of patients, if needed.

With inputs from PTI, Live Law

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