Follow Us:

SC orders states to go to Covid victims’ kin over compensation

Bihar has reported 12,145 COVID-19-related deaths so far from nearly eight lakh cases.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Kerala governments, over the failure of, or delay in, payment of compensation to the families of those who died of Covid.

The apex court told the state governments to reach out to the families who lost their family members to Covid-19, and also said the governments should not wait for them to file applications to claim compensation.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and Sanjeev Khanna told the Kerala government counsel to send out its officers to those families, where it has recorded a Covid death.

“It is very unfortunate that despite earlier direction to pay compensation… time and again directions are issued…Total callousness on part of Andhra Pradesh… appears state is not at all serious in (complying) with orders of this court… no justification for not making payment,” the court said.

“Officers must go to them. We don’t have to tell you… Deaths already registered. They must be paid. Let your officers go to districts…”

The Kerala government has recorded over 40,000 Covid deaths and it has received over 23,000 claims so far.

Expressing discontent at the delay in Covid compensation by various states, Justice Shah said: “States believe people are at their mercy…”

Justice Khanna said the gap between the Covid deaths recorded and the number of applications received, is a matter of serious concern.

The bench noted that the number of applications seeking Covid compensation claims is less than registered death cases in many states, yet governments failed to take proactive steps.

Andhra Pradesh, the court noted, had reported around 36,000 compensation applications after an earlier order, of which 31,000 were found to be correct but only 11,000 have been paid so far.

“Not making payment to eligible claimants (is) tantamount to disobedience of our earlier order, for which the Chief Secretary is liable… Let the Chief Secretary remain present virtually at 2 pm and show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated…” Justice Shah said.

Pulling up Bihar over what the court felt were excessively low reported deaths, the top court said, “You don’t even update data… According to you only 12,000 have died. We want real facts. In other states the numbers have increased after our previous order…” Justice Shah observed, adding, “Call your Chief Secretary… We are not ready to accept that only 12,000 died in Bihar.”

Bihar has reported 12,145 COVID-19-related deaths so far from nearly eight lakh cases.

The court pointed to Gujarat, which has reported 10,174 deaths but around 91,000 claims.

Conversely, Kerala has reported over 51,000 deaths but only 27,000 applications, and Haryana told the court it had received 7,360 applications as against more than 10,000 deaths.

The bench asked the Gujarat government to produce the documentation sample, stating the procedure followed while rejecting compensation claims.

The Haryana government counsel informed the top court that state officials are already reaching out to families, where it has recorded Covid death.

The top court said it will take the help of the State Legal Services Authority to reach victim families for disbursement of compensation. The top court will pass the order later in the day.

The top court was hearing a plea by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, where it is monitoring the disbursal of compensation to families of those who died due to Covid. The Supreme Court has approved the compensation of Rs 50,000 to victim families.

The court had earlier slammed states for not properly publicising news about a portal developed for disbursal of compensation for COVID-19 deaths. It had said unless that unless publicity was given people could not know the website they had to visit to make their application.

In October the court had said no state could deny compensation and that the money should be disbursed within 30 days of the application.