SC Asks Center To Gather Information From States About Compliance Of Its Order On Compensation For Covid Victims
A Bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathana has asked the Central Government to gather the information regarding disbursement of ex-gratia compensation for the Corona victims and constitution of the Grievance Redressal Committee by states, as per its order issued on October 4.
"We call upon the Union of India to gather the information from all the States whether our earlier order of payment of ex gratia payment of Rs.50,000/- and constitution of Grievance Redressal Committees have been complied with by other States or not," the Bench directed in its order passed on November 22.
It also directed the Gujarat Government to start disbursing the compensation for those victims whose data is available with it and who died due to Covid-19 even as per the Government criteria.
"In the meantime, at least ex gratia amount of compensation of Rs.50,000/- should be paid to those whose particulars are already available with the Government because they are already having the data of the persons who died due to Covid-19, as so far as those persons are concerned they have died due to Covid-19 even as per the Government," the Bench ordered.
The Supreme Court was hearing an application filed by Advocate Amit Panchal challenging a notification issued by the Gujarat Government on October 29 constituting Scrutiny Committees which is alleged to be in violation of the Apex Court's order. On November 18, the Bench had asked the Gujarat Government to come out with a revised notification.
Manoj Aggrawal, Additional Chief Secretary of Gujarat, filed an affidavit on November 22 informing that it has modified the notification and issued a fresh notification on November 21 making a simplified process for the claimants. However, the Bench was not impressed with the notification and asked the Government to make further modifications, subject to submissions by Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, who represents the Gujarat Government, during the next hearing on November 29.
"Having gone through the modified Government Resolution dated 21.11.2021, we are prima facie of the opinion, subject to hearing Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General, that it requires further modification and/or clarification. At the request of Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General, Put up on 29.11.2021," the Bench stated.
Earlier, the Supreme Court lashed at the Gujarat Government for deviating and 'overreaching' its order issued on October 4 in the matter of Gaurav Kumar Bansal Vs. Union of India. However, Aggrawal stated in the affidavit that the state did not have any intention to overreach the order of the Court.
"At the outset, it is most humbly submitted that there can be no intention to overreach the directions of this Hon'ble Court," the affidavit stated.
"Vide such modified Government Resolution dated 21.11.2021, the eligibility criteria for obtaining compensation has been simplified. There is no requirement of appearing before any scrutiny committee, in cases where a person has died within 30 days of being declared as COVID positive or if the COVID patient has passed away during or within 30 days of receiving hospital treatment/facility, then in all such cases the concerned family members do not have to approach the COVID-I9 Death Ascertaining Committee (CDAC) for Official Document for COVID death," the affidavit stated.
It also said, "The kin of the Covid-19 victims will only be required to make an application directly to the concerned District Disaster Management Committee for obtaining the compensation."
The first notification issued by the Gujarat Government had stipulated a cumbersome process, allegedly in violation of the Supreme Court's order, whereby it had made a three layer process for the claimants. A claimant had to first have the cause of death notified in the death certificate, in case it is not mentioned in the medical papers, and then apply for the compensation before the committee.