The Apex Court on Wednesday instructed the Centre to frame regulations to pay ex-gratia remunerations to the families of those who died their lives due to Covid-19. A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court chaired by Justice Ashok Bhushan, in its decree, also instructed the National Disaster Management Authority to affirm within 6 weeks an ex-gratia amount that can be paid to the family members of the deceased.
The court was hearing pleas seeking orders to the Centre to furnish ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to families of individuals who lost their lives to Covid-19.
In an affidavit documented in the court previously, the Centre had stated that the remuneration could not be paid as it would exhaust the disaster relief funds and the disaster management law edicts that relief applies only to natural calamities.
“If ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh is given for every individual who loses life due to Covid-19, the total amount of SDRF may possibly be spent on this event alone, and indeed the total expenditure may escalate,” the Centre said in a 183-page affidavit. It also added that rejecting compensation for infections other than Covid would be “discriminatory”.
The Centre also explained that due to growth in health expenses and low tax revenue, it is beyond states’ budget to pay remunerations for lakhs of Covid sufferers.
“If the total SDRF funds get exhausted on ex-gratia for Covid-19 sufferers, the States may not have adequate funds for arranging Covid-19 immune response, for supplying of various essential medical and other supplies, or to administrate of other catastrophe like cyclones, floods, etc. Hence, the plea of the petitioner for payment of ex-gratia to all dead persons due to Covid-19, is beyond the commercial affordability of the State governments,” the Centre added.
The Centre also mentioned the apex court of its earlier judgment to restrict from executive policies and said the judiciary cannot choose on behalf of the centre. The Supreme Court will hear the case on Monday.
“It is established through numerous verdicts of the Supreme Court that this is a subject which should be functioned by the management, to whom it has been entrusted and not one where the court will alternate its own judgement for the determination to be judged by the executive,” the government reportedly said.
The Centre also mentioned that all coronavirus deaths, regardless of where it occurred, should be logged as Covid-19 deaths. The Centre also committed measures against those experts who fail to abide with this rule.
The report stated that so far, only deaths of Covid-19 victims that happened in the hospitals were certified as Covid deaths. While those that happened at home or even at hospital parking lots, heading to an inconsistency in toll numbers.