COVID victims' ex-gratia
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Maharashtra and West Bengal governments for an abysmally low number of applications for compensation of Rs 50,000 ex-gratia to next of kin of COVID victims.
A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna told the Maharashtra government counsel that over one lakh deaths occurred in the state, and there is such a low number of applications from families for compensation.
"This is ridiculous... we may have to pass strictures against you," the bench warned during the hearing.
The bench also queried the West Bengal government counsel on the disbursement of compensation to COVID victim families, saying that over 19,000 deaths due to COVID occurred and the state government has given compensation to 110.
"Only, if we compel you to work, will you work?" the bench told counsel. The Maharashtra government informed the top court that it has received nearly 35,000 applications for COVID compensation and nearly one lakh people have made their user-id on the designated website. The bench asked both states to file their compliance affidavit by December 15.
The court also pulled up two more state governments for an abysmally low number of applications for compensation, from COVID victim families, despite such staggering death figures. The bench questioned why few persons have applied for compensation, and emphasised on giving wider publicity to the compensation scheme through newspapers, TV, radio etc.,
The Supreme Court in its October 4 judgment, had approved Rs 50,000, ex-gratia for the kin of COVID victims, which was recommended by the National Disaster Management Authority. The order was passed on the plea of advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal.
In the previous hearing, the top court had issued notice to several states over the abysmally low disbursal rate of COVID compensation. On November 29, the Supreme Court expressed concern at state governments grappling with various issues in connection with Rs 50,000 ex-gratia distribution.
The top court directed the Chief Secretaries of various state governments to furnish full particulars to the Union of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Disaster Management Authority, and had scheduled the matter for further hearing on December 6.