Citing financial constraints and other factors, the Central government has informed the Supreme Court in an affidavit that ex gratia amount of Rs 4 lakhs cannot be paid to the family members of those who died due to COVID-19. The Supreme Court, earlier on May 24 had issued a notice to the Centre, on hearing petitions seeking direction to the concerned authorities to provide ex gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakhs to the family members of those who have succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic, as per the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) letter in view of Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Replying to the notice issued, the Central government said that ex gratia amount cannot be paid due to financial constraints and other factors.
However, the Centre government made it clear that it had already made payments and a lot of government measures had been introduced for the needy persons.
In its affidavit before the Apex Court, the Centre also submitted that the Central government and all the state governments have spent a huge amount for needy persons to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and their finances are overstretched.
According to a petition filed in the Supreme Court, keeping in view the spread of COVID-19 virus in India and the declaration of COVID- 19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), by way of special onetime dispensation, it has been decided to treat it as notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
The Central Government issued a revised list and norms of assistance from SDRF and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) through its MHA letter and recommended ex gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakhs per deceased person, the petitioner claimed.
The petition also sought the issuance of direction to respondents, respective State Governments to fulfil their obligation to take care of victims of the calamity and their family members.
COVID-19 situation in India
India recorded less than 60,000 new coronavirus infections after 81 days taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,98,81,965, while the active cases further reduced to 7,29,243, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday. A total of 58,419 fresh infections were reported in a day.
The death toll climbed to 3,86,713 with 1,576 fresh fatalities, the lowest in 63 days.
The active cases further declined to 7,29,243 comprising 2.44 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate improved to 96.27 per cent, the data updated at 8 am showed.
A net decline of 30,776 cases has been recorded in the COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.
As many as 18,11,446 tests were conducted on Saturday taking the total cumulative tests conducted so far for detection of COVID-19 in the country to 39,10,19,083.