New Delhi. The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday directed the central government to frame the guideline within six weeks for providing a minimum relief to the kin of those who succumbed to Covid -19.
“The National Disaster Management Authority has a statutory obligation to frame guidelines for minimum ex-gratia assistance for the victims of Covid Pandemic,”- the court said.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, in its judgement, directed the National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) to ascertain within six weeks whether the ex-gratia amount can be paid to the family members of the victims.
If it (NDMA) fails to provide ex-gratia amount of compensation, then it has failed in discharging its statutory duty, the Apex Court said in its judgement.
The top court passed the judgement after hearing petitions filed by two lawyers- Gaurav Bansal and Deepak Kansal.
The court held that section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, will include ex-gratia and rejected the Central government’s argument that it was not a mandatory provision.
The Centre had earlier this month told the SC that compensation of ₹4 lakh can’t be paid to the families of those who died of Covid 19 as the finances of State Governments and the centre are under severe strain.
“Already , the finances of State Governments and the central government are under severe strain because of the reduction in tax revenues and increase in health expenses on account of the pandemic, “ said the Government
“Thus, utilization of scarce resources for giving ex-gratia may have the unfortunate consequences of affecting the pandemic response and health expenditure in other aspects and hence cause more damage than good,” it further added.
The Government also urged the Apex Court not to interfere in policy decisions.