Deadline of 4 weeks for COVID-19 compensation too short: SC

March 21, 2022 08:50 pm | Updated 10:06 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A file photo of a relative lighting the funeral pyre of a COVID-19 victim in Guwahati.

A file photo of a relative lighting the funeral pyre of a COVID-19 victim in Guwahati. | Photo Credit: AP

The Supreme Court on Monday did not agree with the Union government’s suggestion to fix the deadline for filing claims for COVID-19 death compensation to four weeks, saying that it was too short a time for a grieving family.

“Four weeks is too short. The family would need time to recover from the death and file the claim,” a Bench, led by Justice M.R. Shah, observed.

The Bench, instead, suggested giving 60 days more for families to file their claims for compensation. In case of deaths in future, 90 days may be given. The court reserved the question for final orders.

“We will give 60 days from today for filing claims for persons who have already died. For future deaths, we will give 90 days. Further we will also say that if there are any reasons for delay then the State concerned should accept it,” the court said.

Fake claims

The Bench, also comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna, considered a random sample survey, probably of five per cent of the claims filed, in order to detect fake applications for payment of compensation. The discussion on this aspect in court focussed especially on Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, where there was allegedly a huge discrepancy between the number of COVID-19 deaths and the compensation claims filed.

The Bench then reserved the issues for pronouncement of final orders.

The court is concerned with instances of fake death certificates being used to claim ex-gratia compensation for persons who died of COVID-19 infection.

Financial aid of ₹50,000 is provided as a welfare measure to the families of those who died of COVID-19. The court had steered the initiative and approved the scheme for distributing ex-gratia assistance to families who could provide documents, including RT-PCR test results and death certificate, to the authorities concerned.

The money for the aid was sourced by the States from their respective disaster relief funds.

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