Family members of those who died due to COVID19 will be given ₹50,000 as ex gratia compensation, the Supreme Court ruled today. More importantly, the top court ruled that the states cannot deny this compensation if the death certificate does not mention COVID as a cause of death.
"Next kin of the deceased shall be paid an amount of Rs 50,000 and it will be over and above the amounts paid by the Centre and state under various benevolent schemes," the bench comprising Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna said.
The order was passed on a plea filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal seeking directions to the Executive and state governments to provide ex-gratia compensation to the next of kin of those who succumbed to the novel coronavirus and post-COVID complications.
Family Members of COVID victims to get ₹50,000 compensation
"COVID-19 case for purposes of compensation is the one where victims tested positive Covid RT-PCR test in an outside clinic or inpatient facility. This test is to be within 30 days of the date of death," the bench clarified.
The ex-gratia payment will be drawn from the states' disaster relief funds. The full details of the beneficiary should be published in print media. Such amount will be disbursed within 30 days of submitting application and cause of death is certified as of COVID19," the court said.
Covid cases which are not resolved and where the victim succumbed to the novel coronavirus at home or in a hospital will also be counted as a Covid death, the top court said. "If family member satisfies the authority of cause of death as Covid, then no state shall deny the benefit of ₹50,000 on the ground that cause of death is not Covid in the death certificate," the court said. "Full details of the beneficiary should be published in print media," it added.
"The district authorities to take remedial steps to have the cause of death corrected. District level committee details to be published in print media," the bench said dictating the order via virtual hearing. The ex-gratia assistance shall continue to be provided for deaths that continue to occur post the date of judgment," the bench added.
The grievance redressal committee can examine the medical records of the deceased patients and take a call within 30 days and order the compensation. Such committee will have the power to call for records from the hospitals," Justice Shah said. "In case death certificates have already been issued and family members are aggrieved by the cause of death mentioned, they can approach the committee and submit relevant documents and seek a modification of the same, the judge said.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Health Ministry have also been directed to issue guidelines for the implementation of the abovementioned directions, the court said while disposing of the plea.
Before the last hearing on September 23, the Centre had filed two affidavits outlining their recommendations to alleviate the suffering of those affected by COVID. In its affidavit, the Centre had said that family members of those persons who die by suicide within 30 days of testing COVID positive, would also be entitled for compensation.
The Centre's recommendation came because of the Supreme Court's June 30 order directing the NDMA to formulate guidelines for compensation to be given to family members of covid victims. The court at the time had left it to the wisdom of the NDMA to decide on the compensation amount to be given.
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