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COVID:SC expresses displeasure over delay in framing guidelines for issuance of death certificates

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, assured the court that everything is under consideration

COVID:SC expresses displeasure over delay in framing guidelines for issuance of death certificates
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Supreme Court

New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday expressed displeasure over delayin framing guidelines for issuance of death certificates to the families of thosewho died of COVID-19 and directed the Centre to file compliance report bySeptember 11.

"We passed the order a long time back. We have already extended the timeonce. By the time you frame the guidelines, the third phase will also beover", a bench comprising Justices M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose observed.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, assured the courtthat everything is under consideration.

Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who has filed the petition, submitted that underthe pretext of consideration things should not be delayed as the top court hasalready granted four-week extension to the Centre on August 16 to frameguidelines for ex-gratia compensation and now it is seeking more time.

Advocate Sumeer Sodhi, who appeared for some of the applicants, said extendedtime for the first direction passed on June 30 is getting over on September 8.

The bench said it is for the Centre to take decision on compensation withinthat period of time and today it was adjourning the matter only for the purposeof compliance with other directions.

"Put up on September 13 as Solicitor General seeks time to enable Union OfIndia to comply with earlier order and place on record compliance report ofother directions issued by this court on June 30, 2021. Compliance report to befiled with the registry on or before September 11," the bench said.

The apex court had in its June 30 verdict directed the National DisasterManagement Authority to recommend within six weeks appropriate guidelines for ex-gratiaassistance on account of loss of life to the family members of persons who dieddue to COVID-19.

The Centre had moved an application seeking some more time to frame theguidelines on the ground that the exercise which was in active consideration ofthe NDMA was at an advanced stage and requires a little more in-depthexamination.

In its June 30 verdict, the top court had also ordered steps to simplifyguidelines for issuance and correction of death certificates/officialdocuments, stating the exact cause of death, that is, 'Death due to COVID-19'for enabling dependents to get benefits of welfare schemes.

The top court's verdict had come on two separate pleas filed by lawyers ReepakKansal and Gaurav Kumar Bansal seeking directions to the Centre and the statesto provide Rs 4 lakh compensation to the families of coronavirus victims asprovisioned under the Act.

Four intervenors, who had lost their family members due to COVID have alsomoved the top court contending that there cannot be any discrimination in theamounts being paid by different states to family members of those, who hadsuccumbed to the deadly infection.

The apex court in its verdict, however, had noted the peculiarity and theimpact and effect of the pandemic and said that it cannot order payment of Rsfour lakh as ex-gratia compensation which should be decided by the NDMA asthere was a need to focus simultaneously on prevention, preparedness,mitigation and recovery, which calls for a different order of mobilization ofboth financial and technical resources.

"We direct the NDMA to recommend guidelines for ex gratia assistance onaccount of loss of life to the family members of the persons who died due toCovid-19, as mandated under Section 12(iii) of Disaster Management Act (DMA)2005 for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to the persons affectedby disaster - Covid 19 Pandemic, over and above the guidelines alreadyrecommended for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to personsaffected by COVID-19, it had said.

It had also directed the Centre to take appropriate steps on recommendations ofthe Finance Commission on providing insurance cover for deaths caused by COVID.

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