On Wednesday, June 30, the Supreme Court issued a decision on a petition seeking ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh for families who have lost a family member due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan has directed the Centre to set procedures for paying ex-gratia to families of those who died as a consequence of the COVID-19. The Supreme Court denied the Centre’s petition, ruling that no such ex-gratia reimbursement could be made.
Addressing the relevant portions of the ruling, Justice Shah stated, “There is a duty cast on the national authority to prescribe minimum standards of relief….There is nothing on record that the national authority has issued any guidelines for minimum standards of relief for COVID victims, which shall include ex-gratia assistance for COVID…The national authority has failed to perform its statutory duty under Section 12 by failing to recommend minimum relief for ex-gratia assistance.”
The amount would be determined by the National Authority in accordance with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The Supreme Court has directed the National Authority to determine what is a reasonable amount. The Supreme Court has also instructed the Centre to pave way to make it easier to get death certificates in cases of COVID-related deaths. SC has expressed dissatisfaction with the National Authority’s failure to carry out its responsibilities by failing to set compensation guidelines. The National Authority has been given six months to frame the guidelines.