covid: Supreme Court faults states for failing to pay Covid compensation

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Covid compensation money must reach the affected people, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday, faulting many states for not paying it to the kin of all those who had died of Covid or had rejected these pleas without assigning reasons, a fact which would help them appeal against the rejection orders before a grievance redressal mechanism.

A bench, comprising Justices MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna, was hearing a petition filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal seeking compensation for the Covid affected. “Money must reach the people. That is the goal,” Justice Shah said, during Wednesday’s hearing in which the court examined the records produced by every state.

The bench was unhappy with most states for failing to cite the reason why the claim applications had been rejected. Reasons must be assigned so that the affected can challenge the rejection orders before a grievance panel set up for this purpose.

Many states like Gujarat said they had received the claims which outnumber the reported dead by as much as nine times while others like Kerala claimed that they received lesser number of claims than deaths. Some like Rajasthan claimed that many were not interested in claiming the money. The bench singled out Kerala for special attention when its affidavit showed that it had received far less than the reported deaths. “Every other state has received more claims than deaths, but you have received less. Why?” the bench sought to know.

The bench also summoned the chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar over the state governments’ failure to process all applications and pay the compensation. The Andhra chief secretary assured that the government would examine the cases of all those whose claims have been rejected or had not received any compensation. The Bihar chief secretary also appeared virtually in response to the court summons. The court has now asked these two states to review these cases and pay in a week.

Under the court orders, the kin of all those who had died of Covid would receive a minimum of ₹50,000 from the National Disaster Relief Fund apart from other relief already declared for them.

As it examined the data received from states, the SC wondered why compliance with its orders was so laggard. Eventually, the bench decided to rope in the national legal services authority to ensure that the affected get the required help with paper work so that they can get the relief. Justice Khanna observed that the weakest sections must have been left out of the exercise as they lacked access to the Internet or social media. The authority will act as the ombudsman in all these cases, Justice Shah said.

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Source: The Economic Times
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