Supreme Court rejects plea seeking uniform national policy to compensate COVID-19 victims' families
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Aug 24, 2020, 03:22 pm
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a plea seeking the constitution of a national policy for compensating families of those who had succumbed to the novel coronavirus disease. A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy dismissed the plea stating every state across India follows a different policy and gives compensation in accordance with its financial power.
Representing petitioner Hashik Thayikandy, advocate Deepak Prakash stated that all his client was requesting was for a national policy to be created that would provide for uniform compensation throughout the country. In his statement, he said countless people across the country have died due to the COVID-19 outbreak and that many of the victims are not getting equal compensation. Mr Prakash further cited a few other cases particularly the Delhi government giving Rs 1 crore as compensation, while some other states are giving Rs 1 lakh.
Dismissing the plea, the bench had sought the counsel to withdraw it. A direction to the Centre and the state governments has also been sought by the petitioner to formulate a relevant "compensation plan", which provides ex-gratia monetary compensation to the kin of essential and healthcare workers, who died after getting infected by coronavirus. The petition further asked the court to seek a status report from States in regard to the total number of victims due to COVID-19 and the steps taken by authorities for the compensation of the loss of life due to the pandemic. The petition stated that a sizable section of the Indian population are low income groups, wherein only a person in the family is an earning member, while others are dependent on that income for their survival.
The plea said, "The said citizens are also the tax payers of our country. In such a structure, whereby the death rate is only increasing at an alarming rate per day, it is imperative for the state to formulate appropriate guidelines, on compassionate grounds, for ex-gratia compensation to families of the COVID-19 casualties, especially for frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical staff etc., solely with the purpose of aiding the families for their basic survival and sustenance during this pandemic,".
"The death of an Indian citizen not only impacts his/her own personal life, but it affects the lives of all the members of the family who were dependent on the sole source of income", it further stated. Mr Prakash's plea added, "In the event of a death of such a family member and while regarding the huge unemployment which COVID-19 has encompassed globally, the dependents are with no finances for survival,".
The plea also claimed that the number of COVID-19 deaths across the country has been on the rise with each passing hour, especially among those who are serving on the frontlines - police officials, doctors, paramedical staff, government employees, journalists - thereby leaving their families in an extremely vulnerable position financially.
It stated, "Till date, COVID-19 has no cure/vaccine and has been declared as a notified 'disaster', thus, it is the duty of the State, on compassionate grounds, to provide relief to its citizens by adequately compensating the kin of the deceased in order to financially assist the families thereof, who are in an extremely vulnerable and helpless position, having suffered due to the outbreak of this deadly virus."