The Supreme Court Monday reserved verdict on the pleas seeking directions that ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh be paid to the families of those who have died of COVID-19.
A special vacation bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah heard Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and senior advocate S B Upadhyay and other lawyers for almost two hours.
The top court asked the parties to file written submissions in three days and specifically directed the Centre to simplify the process of grant of death certificates to the dependents of those who have died of COVID-19.
The Centre had earlier the apex court that the ex-gratia compensation of Rs 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 an affidavit filed before the top court, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the Centre submitted that it has by ways of ‘Minimum Standard Relief’ under section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, taken several steps providing for substantial and speedy measures by way of, increase in the health, infrastructure, ensuring food safety to every citizen.
Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, one of the petitioners in the matter, had argued that under section 12(iii) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, every family whose member died due to disaster is entitled for ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4,00,000.
He had argued that since COVID-19 has been declared as a disaster and as per the order dated April 8, 2015, every family whose member dies due to disaster is entitled for ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh.
The counsel, appearing for another petitioner Reepak Kansal, had argued that a large number of deaths were taking place due to COVID-19 and death certificates need to be issued, as only after that the affected family members can claim compensation under section 12 (iii) of the Act.
In his plea, Kansal has said that states should be directed to fulfil their obligation to take care of victims of COVID-19 and also their family members.