Thursday, February 2, 2023

Covid-19 fake death claims: Supreme Court permits Centre to probe fake claims of ex-gratia

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The Supreme Court on Thursday gave permission to the Central Government to investigate the fake claims made by people seeking ex-gratia on death of kin due to Covid-19.

A Bench comprising Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna directed the Centre to verify five percent of claims made by people in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala, since the states registered a wide difference between the number of claims and recorded deaths.

The bench further said that the Centre’s suggestion for fixing four weeks’ time to make claims was “too low”.

On March 24, the Apex Court had indicated that it may allow the Centre to make a random check on overall claims processed by the states for ex-gratia payments to the families of Covid-19 victims.

It said that it may grant 60 days’ time for filing of claims in case of persons who have already died and in case of future deaths, such claims can be made within a time period of 90 days.

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The top court of the country had earlier said that its directions for payment of compensation to the family members of persons who died due to Covid-19, were very clear and there was no requirement at all of constituting the scrutiny committee to award compensation.

Earlier, the Court had set a time period of 60 days for claims on Covid-19 deaths that occurred before or on March 28, 2022, and a deadline of 90 days for all future claims. The ex-gratia compensation was set at Rs 50,000.

It was very much made clear that even in a case where, in the death certificate, the cause is not shown as death due to Covid-19 but if found that the deceased was declared positive for Novel Coronavirus and has died within 30 days, automatically his or her family members are entitled to compensation, without any further conditions.

So far, over 5.1 lakh people in the country have died due to Covid-19.

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