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Covid-19 compensation: Supreme Court grants another 4 weeks for Centre to comply with the order, frame guidelines

The Court said it has carefully examined the provisions of the Disaster Management Act and Section 12 of the DMA provides “Guidelines for minimum standards of relief” which states as follows:

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The Supreme Court has granted another 4 weeks’ time for the Centre to comply with the judgment and frame guidelines in the plea seeking ex-gratia assistance to the families of people who died due to Covid-19. 

The bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah directed that the Central government shall also place on record an affidavit setting out the compliance with respect to other guidelines along with guidelines for ex-gratia assistance on account of loss of life to the family members of the persons who died due to Covid-19, as mandated under Section 12(iii) of DMA 2005 for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by Covid pandemic as referred in the judgment of this case pronounced by a three-judges bench presided by Justices Ashok Bhushan, Vineet Saran and M.R. Shah.

The application also stated that “word occurring under Section 12 NDMA, be read as “shall” and not “may” as it would defeat the entire objective of the Act.”

In its judgment on June 30, the Supreme Court had directed the NDMA to determine within six weeks the ex-gratia amount that can be paid to each Covid victim while stating that NDMA had failed to discharge its statutory duty.

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The Court said it has carefully examined the provisions of the Disaster Management Act and Section 12 of the DMA provides “Guidelines for minimum standards of relief” which states as follows: 

“The National Authority shall recommend guidelines for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by disaster, which shall include—ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life as also assistance on account of damage to houses and for restoration of means of livelihood.” 

The Court further stated that, “We have discussed it in detail. And therefore we have decided that Govt should provide relief to the different sectors of the society. It is not proper for this Court to direct that ex-gratia 4 lakhs should be paid to each Covid victim.”

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The court further sought response on an issue regarding death certificates/ any letter to the families of deceased, stating the cause of death. Regarding which, the Centre submitted that Covid death will be mentioned in death certificates of every victim. Doctors who fail to certify Covid deaths will be penalised, the affidavit said.

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