The Supreme Court today permitted the Centre to conduct an inquiry into fake claims for ex-gratia compensation meant for family members of those who have lost their lives due to Covid-19.

A Bench of Justice M R Shah and Justice B V Nagarathna said the government can verify 5 per cent of claims in four states, Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, where the gap between number of claims and recorded deaths was wide.

The Court also set a period of 60 days which would be given to all such persons who are eligible as on date to apply for the ex-gratia compensation and 90 days shall be given to the future claimants.

The Centre had earlier filed an application seeking a deadline of four weeks for claiming ex gratia payment from authorities on the death of kin due to COVID-19.

The Court had earlier expressed concern over fake claims for getting ex gratia compensation of Rs 50,000, meant for family members of those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19, saying it had never visualised that this can be "misused" or thought that the morality has not gone so down.

It had also directed all state governments and Union Territories to appoint a dedicated nodal officer to coordinate with the member secretary of the state legal service authority (SLSA) to facilitate the payment of ex gratia compensation.

The Court, which was earlier annoyed over the non-disbursal of the Rs 50,000 ex gratia, had pulled up the state governments. It had said on October 4 last year that no state shall deny ex gratia of Rs 50,000 to the next of kin of those who died after being infected with COVID-19 solely on the grounds that the death certificate does not mention the virus as the cause of death.

The Court had also said that the ex-gratia is to be disbursed within 30 days from the date of applying to the district disaster management authority or the district administration concerned along with the proof of the death of the deceased due to coronavirus and the cause of death being certified as died due to COVID-19.

The Court had said that its directions for payment of compensation to the family members of the persons who died due to COVID-19 are very clear and there was no requirement at all of constituting the scrutiny committee to award compensation.

It had said that it was very much made clear that even in a case wherein the death certificate the cause is not shown as COVID-19 but if found the deceased was declared positive for coronavirus and has died within 30 days, automatically his or her family members are entitled to the compensation without any further conditions.

With PTI inputs