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Compensation For COVID Deaths: Rajasthan High Court Issues Notice To Center & State

Shrutika Pandey
23 July 2021 4:57 AM GMT
Compensation For COVID Deaths: Rajasthan High Court Issues Notice To Center & State
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The Rajasthan High Court has issued notices to the Central and the State Government on a plea seeking ex-gratia compensation for the family members/ dependents of those who succumbed to COVID-19 or Black Fungus (Mucormycosis).A division bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Satish Kumar Sharma has kept the matter for hearing on August 31.Interestingly, the Supreme Court...

The Rajasthan High Court has issued notices to the Central and the State Government on a plea seeking ex-gratia compensation for the family members/ dependents of those who succumbed to COVID-19 or Black Fungus (Mucormycosis).

A division bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Satish Kumar Sharma has kept the matter for hearing on August 31.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court had recently observed that the National Disaster Management Authority has a statutory obligation to frame guidelines for recommending minimum ex-gratia assistance for the victims of COVID pandemic. Following this, the Central Government has sought some time for the Authority to frame guidelines in this regard.

The petitioner, represented by Advocate Dikshant Jain, prays that a scheme be devised for payment of compensation through the revised National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) or the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). The plea also refers to the PM CARES Fund and the Rajasthan Chief Minister Relief Fund for mitigation of their grievances. It notes,

"The respondents till date have not made any discussions or decisions in relation to the compensation scheme for the family members and dependents of the deceased person who encountered such deadly virus of COVID-19 despite the fact that NDRF and SDRF were constituted under Section 46 & 48 of DM act for relief to the victims of natural disaster & for disaster management."

It also states that the petitioner had moved applications under the Right to Information Act, 2005 seeking information and certified copies of the documents regarding the compensation scheme for the victims/family members and dependents of the deceased who succumbed to COVID-19. However, a response to the same has not yet been received. The petitioner shares concern over the rising number of death tolls urging to utilize the NDRF/SDRF for ex-gratia compensation to the families who lost their members due to COVID-19 in the state.

The petition also refers to guidelines on the Constitution and Administration of SDRF & NDRF based on Recommendations of 14th Finance Commission 2015-2020 passed by the Union of India. It contemplates immediate relief to the victims of natural disasters as notified by the Government. However, despite the guidelines issued, the petitioner's grievance is that the Government has not taken any single step/decision to provide gratuitous compensation to the victims who lost their family members due to COVID-19.

The petition claims right to life and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution and further places reliance on Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, 2006, which imposes an obligation on the state to provide minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by the disaster. The petition states that it mandates the state to make special provisions for widows and orphans and provide ex-gratia assistance regarding loss of life.

It urges the NDMA & SDMA to frame guidelines for the minimum standard of relief to be provided to persons affected by disaster pursuant to their power under Section 12 and Section 19 of the DMA, 2006 on account of loss of life and restoration of means of livelihood in terms of Section 12(iii) of DMA, 2006.

Case Title: Tanay Jain v. Union of India

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