24 March 2022 12:02 PM GMT
Expressing grave concerns about fake applications being filed to claim the ex-gratia compensation of Rs.50,000 for the kin of persons who died of COVID-19, the Supreme Court on Thursday allowed a random scrutiny of 5% claims filed in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Gujarat.The number of claims in these states were quite high when compared to the officially reported deaths....
Expressing grave concerns about fake applications being filed to claim the ex-gratia compensation of Rs.50,000 for the kin of persons who died of COVID-19, the Supreme Court on Thursday allowed a random scrutiny of 5% claims filed in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Gujarat.
The number of claims in these states were quite high when compared to the officially reported deaths. A bench comprising Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said that misusing the COVID compensation was "against morality and unethical". The bench said that as a first step, random scrutiny of 5% claims in these states can be orderd.
"We permit the National Disaster Management Authority/Union of India, through Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to carry out the random scrutiny of 5% of the claim applications by the States of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and Maharashtra at the first instance", the Bench ordered. These states were directed to assist in carrying out the scrutiny of claims and submit all the necessary particulars of the respective claims that have been attended/processed to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Ministry was directed to carry out the scrutiny and submit a report to the Supreme Court within 3 months.
"If it is found that anybody has made a fake claim, the same shall be considered under Section 52 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and liable to be punished accordingly", the Bench observed.
Section 52 of the Disaster Management Act reads as follows :
52. Punishment for false claim.—Whoever knowingly makes a claim which he knows or has reason to believe to be false for obtaining any relief, assistance, repair, reconstruction or other benefits consequent to disaster from any officer of the Central Government, the State Government, the National Authority, the State Authority or the District Authority, shall, on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, and also with fine.
The Bench passed the order in a Miscellaneous Application filed by the Union of India in the case Gaurav Kumar Bansal versus Union of India. Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta submitted before the bench that as of now approximately 7,38,610 claims are received and, therefore, it may be very difficult to verify each and every claim. It was submitted that therefore let there be a random sample scrutiny.
Senior Advocate R Basant, appearing for the State of Kerala and Advocate Rahul Chitnis, appearing for the State of Maharashtra, welcomed the suggestion of sample survey.
The Bench observed in the order :
"Nobody can be permitted to avail the ex-gratia compensation by making a false claim and/or submitting the false certificate. A claimant is entitled to the ex-gratia of Rs.50,000/- being a kin/family member of those, who died due to COVID-19. Earlier, this Court passed the order directing the Union of India/NDMA/concerned States to pay ex-gratia amount keeping in mind the humanity and keeping in mind the sufferings of the family members who lost one of their family members due to COVID-19. Therefore, nobody can be permitted to misuse the same and it is also against morality and is unethical, which can never be accepted".
Case Title : Gaurav Kumar Bansal versus Union of India
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 312
Click here to read/download the order