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Compensation to families of Covid dead: Supreme Court defers hearing to June 21

In the last hearing, Justice MR Shah had said it was not fair for the family that the reason ascribed for death in the certificate is often a different one when the cause of death is actually the novel coronavirus.

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The Supreme Court on Friday granted time to the Central Government to file its reply in the plea seeking ex-gratia monetary compensation of Rs 4 lakh or notified ex-gratia monetary compensation to the families of the deceased, who succumbed to the Covid-19 pandemic. The matter has been listed on June 21 for next hearing.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had submitted before the bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice M.R. Shah that the Central Government was considering the matter and requested the court not to pass any order in this regard. Mehta prayed the Centre be granted some time to file its reply.

Senior Advocate S.B. Upadhyay submitted, “The death happening because of black fungus is also a result of Covid-19. Therefore, the death certificate must consist this reason also.”

Mehta replied that the Central Government is considering this aspect also.

On May 24, Upadhyay had submitted that a death certificate should specify the cause of death to be Covid-19 in the case of the Covid dead. Thereafter, the Bench sought a reply from the Centre in this regard and ordered Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati to file an affidavit by June 11.

Justice Shah had observed if there was a uniform policy on death certificates where the reason for death is not given as Covid-19. Justice Shah added that it is not fair for the family that the reason ascribed for death in the certificate is often a different one when the cause of death is actually the novel coronavirus.

Many times, it happens that Covid patients develop different ailments like heart attack or lung infection and die due to them, but that problem happens because of Covid-19 and that is not reflected in the death certificate. Therefore, exact reasons must be reflected in the death certificate, he had said.

The plea had sought an intervention by the Supreme Court to provide ex-gratia monetary compensation of Rs 4 lakh/notified ex-gratia monetary compensation to the families of deceased, who have succumbed to the pandemic, as per MHA letter No 32-7/2014-NDM-1 dated April 8, 2015 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, in view of Section 12 of The Disaster Management Act, 2005.

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The plea had submitted, “It is right of the family members to know the real cause of death of their family member/ relative on any official document.” The plea further sought directions to the States to issue death certificates/ any letter to the families of deceased, stating therein the cause of death. The medical officers have not been conducting post-mortem of the persons who died with Covid-19.

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