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A Third Party Review Petition In Supreme Court Seeks Review of Its Order Regarding Ex Gratia Compensation to Families of Covid Victims

Srishti Ojha
31 July 2021 5:45 AM GMT
A Third Party Review Petition In Supreme Court Seeks Review of Its Order Regarding Ex Gratia Compensation to Families of Covid Victims
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A third party review petition filed through Advocate P Somasundaram has sought review of the impugned judgement on 30th June.

A review petition has been filed before the Supreme Court against the top Court's recent judgement dated 30th June, 2021 about the ex-gratia compensation for families of Covid-19 victims. A third party review petition filed through Advocate P Somasundaram has sought review of the impugned judgement passed on June 30 by a Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah in two PILs...

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A review petition has been filed before the Supreme Court against the top Court's recent judgement dated 30th June, 2021 about the ex-gratia compensation for families of Covid-19 victims.

A third party review petition filed through Advocate P Somasundaram has sought review of the impugned judgement passed on June 30 by a Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah in two PILs namely Gaurav Kumar Bansal v. Union of India and Reepak Kansal v. Union of India. The pleas were filed seeking directions to the Centre & States to provide ex-gratia compensation of Rs. 4 lakh to the family members of those who have succumbed to the COVID-19 disease and post COVID19 complications.

While holding that the National Disaster Management Authority has a statutory obligation to frame guidelines for recommending minimum ex-gratia assistance to Covid victims, Supreme Court in the impugned order had said that it cannot direct the Union Government to pay a particular amount as compensation.

The present review petitioner has sought review on the grounds that the Supreme Court's 2021 order is in anomaly with the its earlier Full Bench judgement of 18th August 2020 (Centre For Public Interest Litigation vs Union of India) on the very same aspect of providing Compensation to families for deaths due to COVID-19 as per Section 12, Guidelines under the Disaster Management Act.

According to the petitioner, August 2020 judgement had held that issuance of  fresh guidelines under S.12 of Disaster Management Act, 2005 were not required and the existing Sec.12 Guidelines will apply to COVID-19 also. Therefore, the existing S.12 Guidelines and the 'Norms of Assistance' according to Ministry of Home Affair's letter 08- 04-2015 would form the currently applicable guidelines for Ex Gratia compensation payment of 4,00,000 to families that lost a member due to COVID-19 Disaster.

The petitioner has further submitted that based on the August 2020 order, he filed a petition before the Madras High Court in December seeking a direction to Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority to pay Ex Gratia compensation for death of his father due to COVID-19, which remains pending.

Considering this , he petitioner has stated that the June 2021 judgement requires a review as it has the consequence of compromising on Petitioner's entitlement for compensation for death of his father due to COVID-19, if relying on the earlier the Full Bench Judgment.

According to the petitioner, the impugned judgement also requires review following the discovery of new and important matter by third-party petitioner ( full Bench's October 2020 judgement) which could not be or was not produced by the original petitioners after exercise of due diligence. It was also uppressed by the respondents.

The petitioner has also given the following reasons as to why the impugned judgement and the law laid down needs to be reviewed: 

1. It did not deliberate or discuss the issue of statutory force of Guidelines published pursuant to a statutory provision.

2. It did not refer to, distinguish or reverse the law laid down in the earlier findings of a Division Bench of the top Court in the case of ICICI Bank vs Liquidator of APS Star Industries that specifically dealt with the aspect of statutory force of Guidelines published pursuant to a statutory provision.

3. It did not refer to, deliberate, distinguish or reverse the findings of Full Bench of the top given in its August 2020 judgement.

4. Guidelines framed under a Statutory Provision, Section 12, in the instant case, has become statutory Guidelines having statutory force of law and do not remain a policy decision (in light of the findings of Supreme Court in ICICI Bank vs Liquidator of APS Star Industries case)

Third Party Petitioner an 'Aggrieved Person': The present review petitioner has argued that he is entitled to file the review being a third party as he is an "aggrieved person" entitled to file the Review in terms of Order 47 of the CPC and Supreme Court Rules.

Further, his entitlement for compensation for his father's death has been compromised as he had moved the Madras High Court in December 2020, for a compensation of 4,00,000/- as the S.12 Guidelines prescribed 'based on' the Full Bench order and the impugned order stands in anomaly of that order.

Supreme Court's judgement in August 2020 was passed in a PIL filed by CPIL seeking direction to the Union of India to prepare, notify and implement a National Plan under Section 11 read with Section 10 of the Act, 2005 to deal with covid pandemic and to lay down minimum standards of relief under Section 12 of the Act.

The plea had also sought for directions to utilise National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for the purposes of providing assistance in the fight against COVID-19 and all the contributions/grants from individuals/institutions be credited in NDRF and not to PM CARES Fund. It also sought for direction that all funds collected in PM CARES Fund till date should be transferred to NDRF.

While dismissing the petition, the Court had made the following observations:

'The National Disaster Plan is sufficient for COVID 19 and the minimum standards of relief as laid down prior to COVID 19 is enough to deal with COVID-19. The Centre can utilise NDRF for providing assistance in the fight of COVID-19 pandemic by way of releasing fund on the request of the States as per new guidelines. Any contribution, grant of any individual or institution is not prohibited to be credited into the NDRF and it is still open for any person or institution to make contribution to the NDRF in terms of Section 46(1)(b) of the Act, 2005.'

Advocates: AoR P.Somasundaram, Mayilsamy, Kabilan Manoharan, S.Shankar P.Raja, and Muthu Ganesa Pandian

Case Title- C.V.Harikrishna vs Union of India & Ors


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