We Are At Pain To Note Snail's Pace Of Payment Of Compensation For Corona Deaths: Supreme Court
A Supreme Court Bench consisting of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna expressed displessure over the slow process of payment of ex-gratia compensation meant for the Corona victims by the respective state governments.
"We are at pain to note that the process of payment of compensation is at snail speed. The Government/Government authorities must show sensitiveness to the persons who have already suffered loss of their family members died due to COVID-19," the Bench observed while asking all the State Governments to start processing the payment to kin in cases of deaths due to Covid-19.
The States were also asked to give publicity to invite claims from the kin of the deceased persons. Once again, the Court clarified that for getting the ex-gratia compensation the only requirement is death within 30 days of an RTPCR positive report and that cause of death mentioned in the death certificate shall not be the sole criteria.
"It is observed and directed that the respective States must make the payment to the kin/family members of the person who have died due to COVID-19 whose deaths are already registered with the concerned State Government and as observed hereinabove the State Authorities must reach them as the particulars are already with the State Government," the Bench stated.
The Court was hearing an Application filed by Advocate Amit Panchal challenging a notification filed by the Gujarat Government was not in consonance with the Supreme Court's direction in the case of Gaurav Kumar Bansal Vs. Union of India on October 4 while asking the States to grant ex-gratia compensation to the families of the persons who died due to Covid-19.
During the previous hearing, the Supreme Court had sought status reports from all states. The compliance report submitted by some of the States – State of Maharashtra, State of West Bengal, State of Rajasthan, State of U.P. and State of Gujarat. However, the Court was not satisfied with the compliance report filed by few of them.
"We are not at all satisfied with the compliance report filed on behalf of respective States - Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal and U.P. This Court passed a detailed judgment and order dated 04.10.2021 directing all the States to pay the ex-gratia compensation to the kin/family members of the person who died due to COVID-19. A number of directions have been issued, still in most of the States the amount of compensation is not paid," the Bench stated.
The Bench lashed out at the Government of Maharashtra after finding that not even a single person had been paid the ex-gratia compensation, despite the fact that it received applications of 37000 persons out of total 1,45,025 registered deaths.
"It appears that as on today not a single person is paid the compensation in the State of Maharashtra, which shows a very sorry state of affairs and shows insensitiveness on the part of the State and the Government authorities in the State," Bench noted.
Sachin Patil, Advocate for State of Maharashtra, submitted that the actual disbursement of compensation will start from December 15. The same shall be paid within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of the application. However, the Court opined that it should not wait for 30 days.
"Our order to pay the compensation was passed as far as back on 04.10.2021. It appears that no portal was created till this Court issued the notice in the present proceedings. Even inviting further declaration from the claimant that there were no other kin, who is claiming compensation is also unwarranted. Once the applications are received on the online portal and other relevant documents as per our earlier judgment and order dated 04.10.2021 are already produced, there is no question of further waiting even for a period of 30 days. That 30 days' time is the maximum time which we have provided in our earlier order dated 04.10.2021. That does not mean that Government should wait till 5 the 30th day," the Bench stated while noting that even the format in which the application is to be made in the State of Maharashtra is not placed on record.
After taking note of the compliance reports filed by governments of West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, the Bench asked them to create online portal, if not created so far.
The Court posted the matter to December 10, when it will conduct further hearing with respect to compliance reports filed by other states.