Ex-gratia to kin of COVID-19 victims: SC directs NDMA to issue fresh norms

Top court directed the Centre and the NDMA to issue fresh guidelines within six weeks

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to issue fresh guidelines for providing minimum standards of financial help to families of those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

A special bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah said that the court cannot direct the Centre to fix a particular amount of financial help but the government can fix the minimum standard of amount to be paid as ex-gratia to family members of those who lost their lives due to COVID-19 while keeping various aspects in mind.

The top court directed the Centre and the NDMA to issue fresh guidelines within six weeks for minimum standard of relief to be granted to families of victims of COVID-19.

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It also directs the authorities to issue appropriate guidelines for simplification of the process of issuance of death certificates for COVID-19 fatalities.

The top court asked the Centre to consider formulating an insurance scheme for cremation workers as proposed by the Finance Commission.

The bench also rejected the argument of the Centre for reading shall as may in section 12 of the Disaster Management Act for grant of ex-gratia amount to victims of disaster, and said that the NDMA has failed to perform its statutory duties.

The top court’s verdict came on a batch of pleas seeking ex-gratia compensation of Rs four lakh to the dependents of those who died of COVID-19 and formulation of uniform guidelines for issuance of death certificates for Covid fatalities.

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