Ex-Gratia Compensation To Covid Victims- Gujarat Government Tried To Overreach Our Order: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that the notification issued by the Gujarat Government, which prescribes procedures for the persons who want to claim ex-gratia compensation of Rs. 50000 for the death of kin, is 'contrary' to its order issued on October 4 and that the Government has tried to 'overreach' directions issued in the order.
"Having gone through the notification dated 29.10.2021, we feel that the same is just contrary to the directions issued by this Court in order dated 04.10.2021. It appears that an attempt has been made to overreach the directions issued by this Court. The directions issued by this Court for payment of compensation to the family members of the persons who died due to COVID-19 are very clear. There was no requirement at all of constituting the Scrutiny Committee for the purpose of awarding the compensation," stated the Bench consisting of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna.
The Bench was hearing an application filed by Advocate Amit Panchal challenging the notification stating that the State Government has formed a Covid-19 Death Ascertaining Committee that is contrary to the directions of the Supreme Court in the case of Gaurav Kumar Bansal Vs. Union of India.
As per the notification, the Government has issued three types of forms for the claimants to use while claiming compensation. A claimant has to first get the cause of death of the kin mentioned in the death certificate as death due to Corona, before claiming compensation. In case the medical discharge summary doesn't mention the cause of death of the Covid infected person, the claimant has to first establish that the kin died due to Corona, by getting an endorsement to that effect from the hospital.
"The direction was to constitute the Grievance Redressal Committee in case the compensation is not paid and the family members are aggrieved and/or they are aggrieved with respect to the death certificate issued. There was no direction at all for the purpose of constituting a Scrutiny Committee for the purpose of issuing certificate for getting the compensation," the Bench observed.
The Bench reiterated that the compensation is to be paid on the production of the RT-PCR test report and death certificate showing that the death occurred within 30 days.
"Our direction was very clear that the amount of compensation to be paid on production of RT-PCR certificate and the death certificate showing that the death has occurred within 30 days. There was no further requirement at all. It was very much made clear that even in a case where in the death certificate the cause is not shown as death due to COVID but if found that the deceased was declared positive with COVID-19 and he has died within 30 days, automatically, his/her family members are entitled to the compensation without any further conditions. No further condition and/or requirement is provided," the Court said.
The Bench observed that the notification was issued without application of mind, which can be said to be over-reaching the direction issued by the Court. "Even the procedure for compensation should be simplified and the form should be very simple and should not be a clumsy," the Bench stated while asking the government to file its response and take remedial steps.
The Court directed the Government to pay compensation to the vicitms at the earliest, without further harassment. The Court warned that any deviation will be viewed strictly.
"An advance copy of this application is given to Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General who will file response to the present application. Put up on 22.11.2021 so as to enable Shri Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General to take remedial steps and come out with a clear and simplified formula/notification so that the amount of compensation as ordered by this Court is paid to the victim at the earliest and without any further harassment. The notification/circular must be in accordance with the directions issued by this Court in its order dated 04.10.2021. Any deviation shall be viewed very seriously," the Bench said in the Order.