Guwahati: The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to frame guidelines to pay ex gratia to families of those died due to Covid-19. In its order, the court ordered the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to form guidelines for payment as it dismissed the Centre’s plea that “no such ex gratia can be paid”. The guidelines, it said, have to be put in place within six months.
“We direct NDMA to form guidelines for ex gratia compensation for family members of persons who succumbed to covid as per minimum standards of relief. The reasonable amount to be provided is left to wisdom of national authority,” the apex court said.
The court held that the mandate under Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act to lay down guidelines for minimum standards of relief including payment of ex gratia assistance, is mandatory and not discretionary. In failing to do so, the National Authority has failed to perform its job under section 12 of the act, it ruled.
The court further asked the Centre to issue appropriate guidelines to simplify issuance of death certificates in cases of deaths due to complications related to Covid.
The court said that NDMA is statutorily mandated to provide minimum standards of relief, including ex-gratia to Covid victims.
“By not providing ex-gratia amount, the NDMA has failed in discharging its statutory duty,” the order said.
India has recorded nearly 3.9 lakh deaths due to Covid pandemic, which has been declared a disaster under DM Act.
The Centre had earlier the apex court that the ex-gratia compensation of Rs 4 lakh cannot be paid to the families of those who have died of COVID-19 as the finances of state governments and the Centre are under severe strain.