No claims to be rejected on technical grounds, proper reasoning required: SC on COVID compensation
By Thursday, the Supreme Court is anticipated to issue a comprehensive ruling including district and state legal services authorities.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to grab the reins and mobilise efforts to give compensation to families who lost relatives to COVID-19. According to a Bench of Justices M.R. Shah and Sanjiv Khanna, many of the families were economically distressed, which was exacerbated by the fact that the epidemic took away their primary earner. The court ruled that paying 50,000 apiece as an ex gratia to the loved ones of each COVID-19 patient constituted a humanitarian gesture and necessary for a welfare state. Delays and red tape in releasing funds or processing applications did not improve.
The court stated in its decision that the chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar were present virtually. The court stated that if the application for compensation is denied, it is the obligation of the State to contact the claimants and provide them the opportunity to correct any flaws. It further said that if the claims are denied, the claimants should be notified. By Thursday, the Supreme Court is anticipated to issue a comprehensive ruling including district and state legal services authorities.
According to the court, Andhra Pradesh received 49,292 petitions, of which 31,000 were declared valid and 6000 were refused. The Bench summoned the Chief Secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar over non-payment of compensation to the victims' relatives to make it clear that the court intends to pay the families. "It's sad that we have to call out State after State in this manner... "Every State considers that the people are at its mercy," the court stated.
Meanwhile, Justice Shah told the attorneys present that "we have decided to personally step in and see that payments are made" following a brief conversation with Justice Khanna.
The court stated that it will intervene in any state where the number of petitions for compensation received was fewer than the number of fatalities reported. The court stated that it would ask the State and district legal services agencies in these states to get the names and addresses of all petitioners to facilitate payment of the ex gratia sum.
During the hearing, the Bench questioned Gujarat about rejecting 4,000 ex gratia applications. The court stated that just 27,000 claims were lodged in Kerala, even though there were 49,000 COVID-19 fatalities. Maharashtra informed the court that it has previously compensated over a lakh persons. Punjab reports that a total of 8786 claims were received, and 6667 claims were settled. Even in previous sessions, the court voiced concern about why there was just a trickle of compensation petitioners.