Covid compensation: SC pulls up Maha, Kerala, Rajasthan on ‘abysmal’ disbursal rate

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The Supreme Court on Friday pulled up tje Kerala, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan governments for abysmal disbursal rate of compensation of Rs 50,000 ex-gratia to next of kin of Covid victims.

A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna noted that Maharashtra has recorded more than 1.41 lakh Covid deaths, but the state government has received merely 12,000 applications in connection with Covid compensation.

It pulled up the Maharashtra government counsel, saying that the number of deaths will be more and asked what is the issue with the government in connection with low disbursal of Covid claims.

“Tell your government whatever we say (to the state government) should not fall on deaf ears,” it told counsel.

The bench noted that out of 1.41 lakh deaths, the state government has only approved approximately 4,000 claims for Covid compensation, and reiterated that the government should address the issues with an abysmally low rate of Covid compensation.

It directed the Maharashtra government to complete the compensation payment within one week.

The bench also expressed dissatisfaction with the Rajasthan government’s failure to submit data on various counts, which also included no information on number of persons to whom compensation paid so far, in connection with Covid ex-gratia.

“No particulars given with respect to how many claims received….how come the state still doesn’t even have the figures of the number of persons who have applied for compensation or any other data,” it noted.

Justice Shah said the Rajasthan government is suppressing something and wondered how come it did not have figures on the number of persons who have applied for compensation. The bench said how could the state government, which has so far recorded close to 9,000 Covid deaths, disburse compensation without data on applications received.

The bench also pointed out that the state government has also not provided any information on number of vernacular papers in which it advertised in connection with Covid compensation. Also, there was no information on advertisements in English dailies, radio advertisements, and advertisements on social media.

The bench also pulled up the Kerala government, which has recorded 40,855 Covid deaths so far. Pointing out that the state has recorded over 40,000 deaths and claims received so far are over 10,000, the bench said: “Sorry state of affairs.”

Expressing concern at the low number of payments made to people who lost their loved ones to the disease, the top court said the state government has only paid Covid compensation to 528 and approved over 1,900 applications for Covid claim. It said as a welfare state, it is the duty of the state to make payment of compensation to the next of kin of those who succumbed to the pandemic.

It asked the Kerala government to complete the Covid compensation payment within one week.

The top court made these observations on a plea filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal. The Supreme Court in its October 4 judgment, had approved Rs 50,000 ex-gratia for the kin of Covid victims, as recommended by the National Disaster Management Authority. Previously, the top court had issued notice to several states over the abysmally low disbursal rate of Covid compensation.

20211217-185436

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