The Bombay High Court stated that ex-gratia compensation for Covid-19 cannot be entertained as a bounty or else those who were not eligible for such compensation would receive such compensation from the tax payers’ money.

The Court pointed out that the State Government had introduced a comprehensive Personal Accident Cover of Rs.50 lakhs for employees who were on active duty relating to survey, tracing, tracking, testing, preventing, treatment and relief activities of Covid pandemic. All cases of death of employees on such duty on account of Covid, were declared to be covered by the ex-gratia assistance.

A Division Bench of Justice Ravindra V. Ghuge and Justice R.M. Joshi observed, “There can be no debate that such cases should be dealt with, showing sensitivity, care and caution. On the one hand, such cases have to be scrutinized thoroughly and on the other hand, it has to be kept in mind that cases which were not qualified for payment of Rs.50 lakhs as ex-gratia payment, cannot be entertained as if such amounts are a bounty. If such cases are dealt with casually and compensation amounts are granted, those who were not eligible for such compensation, will be receiving Rs. 50 lakhs from the tax payers’ money.

Advocate S.N. Janakwade represented the petitioner, while AGP R.S. Wani appeared for the respondents.

The widow (petitioner) sought ex-gratia compensation of Rs. 50 lakhs from the government on the grounds that her husband, who passed away due to Covid-19, was performing essential services during the pandemic and could be considered a Covid Warrior.

The petitioner's husband was a hand pump helper, and she argued the claim for compensation should not be denied merely because there was no evidence that the deceased husband was specifically deployed for Covid-related duties.

On the other hand, the government authorities contended that the deceased was not specifically deployed for Covid-related duties as per the Government Resolution. They argued that unless an employee was exclusively deployed during the Covid pandemic for activities directly related to Covid, a claim for ex-gratia payment could not be made.

It appears to us that the deceased was not specifically deployed for water supply or to reach houses or to do house to house survey work or for sanitation purpose. He also is not a qualified mechanic to be considered as being the only mechanic available for repairing the Hand-pumps/motors. The deceased was a Hand-pump Helper,” the Court noted.

The Court concluded that while the deceased passed away due to Covid-19, there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was specifically deployed for Covid-related duties.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title: Kanchan v. The State of Maharashtra & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024:BHC-AUG:7748-DB)


Petitioner: Advocate S.N. Janakwade

Respondents: AGP R.S. Wani; Advocate S.B. Pulkundwar

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