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Madras HC issues notice to Union and State on plea seeking ex-gratia payment for Covid-19 declared as a disaster
The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy before whom a public interest litigation moved in this regard came up, sought the response of both the Government within four weeks.
The Madras high court on Tuesday issued notice to both the Union and State seeking ex-gratia payment to heirs or families of persons who died after contracting Covid-19 as per section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy before whom a public interest litigation moved in this regard came up, sought the response of both the Government within four weeks.
Appearing for the petitioner, Advocate Kabilan Manoharan submitted that the Supreme Court in a couple of orders had held that Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act which relates to providing ex-gratia in the event of death or injury in a disaster would apply for those affected by Covid-19 also.
The pela further pointed out that with more than 444 days after COVID-19 being treated as a Notified Disaster and 487 days from the first reported case of COVID-19, more than 2 Crore cases have been officially reported so far.
Moreover, after 446 days from the first reported death due to COVID-19, more than 2 Lakh deaths have been officially reported so far and both the National Disaster Management Authority and the Tamil Nadu-State Disaster Management Authority (TN-SDMA) are yet to identify the persons entitled to this relief and make the ex-gratia payment assistance to families for death of family member, and for Hospitalisation during this COVID-19 Disaster, the plea said.
Based on this, the plea sought both the union and State to identify the class of families that have had the death of a family member due to COVID-19 disaster and to those that have been hospitalised as well.
The pela also pointed out that such ex-gratia payments have been paid by the State Disaster Management Authority at times of various other disasters like Cyclones Vardah, Ockhi, Nivar, Burevi and Kurangani Forest Fire.
The bench also issued notice to the NDMA and TN Government on another PIL seeking payment of ex-gratia to lawyers and advocate clerks who had died due to COVID-19.