The families of two Delhi police officers, who died of COVID-19 last year, have approached the High Court after the Delhi government allegedly denied them ex gratia as announced earlier.
Assistant Sub-Inspector Shesh Mani Pandey was posted in Crime Branch’s fingerprint bureau and died of COVID-19 on May 30 last year. His family had applied for the ex gratia, which was announced by the government for the kin of those who died of COVID-19 while on duty.
In a letter dated October 7, it was stated that the case had been examined and “is not found covered under the Cabinet decision No. 2835 dated May 13, 2020, as the deceased was performing his routine duty assigned to him and was not deployed for COVID-19 duty, which is a mandatory condition to become eligible for grant of ex gratia of ₹1 crore”.
Pandey’s son Krishna Kumar Pandey said he finally decided to approach the court as he felt it was unjustified. “My father did not have the option of work-from-home and had to go to work. He visited a murder spot in Central Delhi and that is most likely where he caught the virus,” the son said, adding that he also lost his grandfather to COVID-19 in May this year, exactly a year after his father died. “We lost two members to the virus. My mother now lives with me in Madhya Pradesh and my brother is studying in Delhi,” he said.
On July 7, the HC ordered the lawyer representing the government to file a reply, on whether guidelines on who is to be paid the ex gratia were laid down, in four weeks and gave the next date of hearing in October.
Constable Amit Kumar Rana’s family approached the HC in June. He died on May 5 and was the first officer in the force to succumb to COVID-19. His wife Pooja approached the court asking for ex gratia, which Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted about right after the officer’s death.
The family of the constable said the next court hearing is later this month. Ms. Pooja had written to Mr. Kejriwal on the matter. “I have a four-year-old son and a four-month-old daughter to take care of. I am worried about their future. If a Chief Minister will not fulfil a promise he made, then I may never be able to trust anyone ever again,” she wrote in a letter dated May 25 this year.