COVID-19 death certificates: Supreme Court urges govt to frame uniform policy

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File

The Supreme Court said death certificates of those who died of COVID-19 often did not reveal that fact.

“The death certificates of persons who die from COVID in hospitals show the reason as lung or heart problem or something else… Whatever has happened should be reflected in the death certificate for the families to get any benefits in the future. Death certificates have to show the reason as COVID,” Justice M.R. Shah addressed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Union government, on Monday.

Justice Shah is part of a Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan hearing separate pleas to direct the government to grant an ex-gratia compensation of ₹4 lakh each to the families of people who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Justice Shah urged the government to frame a uniform policy for issuing death certificates in COVID-19 cases in a transparent manner.

ICMR guidelines

The court asked the government to place the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines to see if there was anything on the procedure for issuance of death certificates in COVID-19 cases.

“People will have to run from pillar to post if any compensation is to be given to the kin of COVID-19 victims. It is not fair to the family if the actual reason for death is COVID and the death certificate shows another reason,” Justice Shah said.

The court scheduled the next hearing on June 11, giving the government time to file its response.

Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who is a petitioner, said under Section 12 (iii) of the Disaster Management Act, ex-gratia compensation of ₹4 lakh was payable to families of disaster victims. The COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster.

He argued that the virus had claimed lakhs of innocent lives, from ordinary citizens to doctors, health workers, police officers and people from all walks of life. Many were the sole breadwinners.

“There is a constitutional and legal obligation on the State and its different organs to take care of victims of the calamity and their family members, in the position of a guardian or parent of the people of the society,” another petition filed by Reepak Kansal, represented by senior advocate S.B. Upadhyay, said.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 9:41:25 am |