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SC grants Centre more time to frame Covid victims ex-gratia guidelines

The top court order came on PILs which were filed by advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal

Monday August 16, 2021 7:39 PM, IANS

Compensation for Covid victims

New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India on Monday granted four weeks more to the Centre to frame guidelines in connection with payment of ex-gratia to dependents of those who succumbed to Covid.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah asked Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati whether the other directions as given by the court in the order have been complied with.

As Bhati requested some time to seek instructions in the matter, the court, while granting the extension, also asked the ASG to place on record an affidavit mentioning steps taken in connection with other guidelines in the judgment within two weeks.

In July, the Centre had moved the Supreme Court seeking additional four weeks to frame ex-gratia payment scheme for the kin of those who succumbed to Covid, after the court, on June 30, directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to frame appropriate guidelines within a period of 6 weeks.

In an application seeking extension, the Centre had said: "Applicant respectfully submits that exercise to frame guidelines for payment of ex-gratia payment to the victims of Covid-19 disaster under Section 12 (iii) of the DMA (Disaster Management Act) is in active consideration of the NDMA and going on."

It emphasised that this exercise, though at an advanced stage, requires a little more in-depth examination before it is finalised and implemented, adding that any accelerated formulation "may result in undesirable results".

"The applicant UOI is respectfully praying that this court, in the interest of justice, be pleased to extend the time for six weeks granted to the applicant to frame the guidelines of the judgment dated June 30, 2021, by another four weeks so as to enable the NDMA to come out with a comprehensive and robust policy," added the application.

On June 30, the Supreme Court had said the Centre failed to perform its statutory duty cast under Section 12 of the DMA, to issue minimum standards of relief for families of those people who lost their lives to Covid-19. It directed NDMA to recommend guidelines for ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life to the family members of the persons who died due to Covid-19, within 6 weeks.

The bench had noted that if the statutory authority has failed to perform its statutory duty cast under the statute or constitutional duty, the court would be absolutely justified in issuing a writ of mandamus directing the authority to perform its statutory duty.

The top court order came on PILs which were filed by advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal seeking court's intervention for payment of Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia amount to the Covid victims' families.

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