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Supreme Court directs state governments to share full data on Covid deaths

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed State Governments to share complete details about the number of Covid deaths as well as information uploaded on the Bal Swaraj Portal to their respective State Legal Services Authorities.

Apart from this, the court also directed the governments to take judicious steps to ensure compensation and rehabilitation of children orphaned due to the coronavirus, which has been uploaded on the Bal Swaraj Portal.

The Division Bench of Justices M.R. Shah and Sanjiv Khanna heard a batch of pleas by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal and interveners represented by advocate Sumeer Sodhi seeking ex-gratia assistance to families of Covid victims.

The chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar attended the hearing through virtual mode. The AP chief secretary apprised the Court that payments to 28,000 claimants have been made. Another 10,000 claimants are left of which 5,000 have been cleared and will be paid in the next three days. The official said 6,000 rejected claims will be examined by the grievance redressal committee suo motu. He assured the court that the government shall ensure that not a single claimant who is eligible for compensation shall be deprived of it.

The Court told the Bihar Chief Secretary that the government needs to make more efforts to give compensation to the victims.

Looking into the peculiarity of the state, the Court observed more effort is needed to reach the eligible persons, / kin/ family members of the ones who succumbed to Covid-19.

Therefore, the Top court directed states to reach those children who have lost both parents or surviving parent and whose particular are already uploaded on the bal swaraj portal, so that compensation can be paid to them.

It is further directed by the Court that concerned states to share full information/particular regarding info on the bal swaraj portal

The Supreme Court also made it clear that in case the recipient is an orphan in the payment of compensation, the amount of compensation should be deposited directly to the child instead of any other family member.

Further the Bench directed  all state governments  that whenever claims are rejected, the reasons for rejection must be communicated to the claimants and they must be given an opportunity to rectify their claims.

It is  clarified by the Court that no claims be rejected on technical grounds. Claimants are given a chance to rectify their applications and such claims be seen by the grievance redressal committee within a week from today.

The matter will be heard next on February 4, 2022.

Earlier today, the Apex Court pulled up state governments for failing to disburse claims to the next of kin of Covid victims, and issued show-cause notice to the Andhra Pradesh chief secretary as to why contempt action be not initiated against him. The Supreme Court then asked the chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar governments to remain present virtually at 2 pm today and explain why the disbursals of ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 for Covid deaths are less in their states.

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