SC pulls up Andhra, Bihar for non-payment of compensation to kin of Covid victims
New Delhi, Jan 19: The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up Andhra Pradesh and Bihar governments for non-payment of compensation to the kin of the victims of Covid-19 despite the orders of the court.
The apex court summoned Chief Secretaries of the states to be present before it through virtual hearing at 2pm today.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and Sanjiv Khanna asked the states to explain why disbursals Rs 50,000 ex gratia for COVID-19 death have been so few in their states.
The top court said that it rejects the COVID-19 death toll given by Bihar, and said that these are not actual but government figures.
"We are not going to believe that only 12,000 people died in the state of Bihar due to Covid. We want your chief secretary to be here virtually at 2 PM," the bench told the counsel appearing for the Bihar government.
The court was hearing a batch of pleas by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal and intervenors, represented by advocate Sumeer Sodhi, seeking ex-gratia assistance to family members of COVID-19 victims.
On December 13 last year, the top court had slammed states for not giving wide publicity about a portal developed for disbursal of ex-gratia compensation for COVID-19 deaths.
It had said that unless wide publicity is given, people will not be able to know the portal address on which they can make online applications.
The court had noted that some states have not given wide publicity by giving full details of the portal in advertisements in newspapers, particularly in vernacular ones, and local channels.
The court had earlier asked the Centre to gather information from states on the progress made on disbursal of ex-gratia compensation of Rs 50,000 to the kin of COVID-19 victims and pulled up the Gujarat government for issuing notification constituting a scrutiny committee contrary to its directions.
On November 18 last year, the top court had pulled up the Gujarat government for issuing a notification which was "just contrary" to the directions given regarding ex-gratia to the next of kin of those who died due to COVID-19 and said an attempt has been made to "overreach" the directions issued by the apex court.
It had said on October 4 last year that no state shall deny ex-gratia compensation of Rs 50,000 to the next of kin of the deceased due to COVID-19 solely on the ground that the death certificate does not mention the virus as the cause of death.
The top court had also said that the ex-gratia is to be disbursed within 30 days from the date of applying to the district disaster management authority or the district administration concerned along with the proof of the death of the deceased due to coronavirus and the cause of death being certified as died due to COVID-19.
It had said that its directions for payment of compensation to the family members of the persons, who died due to COVID-19, are very clear and there was no requirement at all of constituting the scrutiny committee to award compensation.