The Indian government on Wednesday informed the country's Supreme Court that families of those who died of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) will receive an ex gratia of Rs50,000 from the state disaster response fund (SDRF).
The ex gratia will also be given to kin of Covid-19 victims who were involved in relief operations or associated with "preparedness activities", the court was told.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) issued guidelines on ex gratia for Covid-related deaths after the apex court directed the Centre in June entitling kins of Covid victims to an ex gratia amount under the Disaster Management Act 2005. The court had then granted Centre six weeks to fix the amount of ex gratia and extended the deadline multiple times.
"By the time you will take steps, even the third wave (of Covid pandemic) will be over. Our orders directing correction of death certificates was passed long back. You had agreed to file a response on our directions by today. We will now grant you a last opportunity," the bench of justices MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose said after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had sought another extension.
The compensation will be paid for future Covid-related deaths as well, the government told the court. The cause of death will need to be certified as Covid-19 in accordance with the health ministry guidelines to claim the compensation.
In the affidavit submitted to the top court, the government said that all claims related to Covid deaths must be settled within 30 days of submission of the required documents, adding that the amount should be disbursed through the Aadhaar-linked direct benefit transfer procedures.
India has reported more than 4,45,000 virus-related deaths so far, of which the majority were reported during the disastrous second wave of the Covid pandemic.