COVID-19 deaths: Centre seeks more time to frame uniform ex gratia guidelines

Accelerated formulation would lead to undesirable results, it tells Supreme Court

July 20, 2021 10:04 pm | Updated 10:04 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Centre has approached the Supreme Court to allow the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) more time to frame uniform guidelines for payment of ex gratia assistance to families of persons who died of COVID-19.

The government has asked for a month more. A June 30 judgment of the Supreme Court had given the NDMA six weeks to submit its guidelines.

The government said ‘accelerated’ formulation of guidelines would lead to “undesirable results”. The court said the work on the recommendations was at an advanced stage.

The court had pulled up the NDMA, of which the Prime Minister is the ex officio chairperson, for failing in its duty to recommend the assistance.

“The National Authority [NDMA] failed to perform its statutory duty… Ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life is part of minimum standards of relief which has to be provided to persons affected by disaster — in the present case COVID-19 pandemic,” the Supreme Court had observed in a 66-page judgment.

The court however had left it to the ‘wisdom’ of the NDMA to fix the amount while considering the recommendations in the 15th Finance Commission Report and funds required for other reliefs and priorities, including COVID preparedness, mitigation, prevention and recovery.

The court had refused a plea made by PIL petitioners, advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal, to order an ex gratia of ₹4 lakh each to the families of the COVID dead.

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