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Corona Victims Entitled To Ex-Gratia Payment

Rights Of Citizens For Ex Gratia Payment Through State Disaster Relief Fund Applicable To Persons Died Due To Coronavirus.

The Government of India is bound under section 12(iii) of the Disaster management Act,2005, to frame items and norms of assistance out of State Disaster Fund. The kind of assistance to be provided to people affected by disaster has to be notified and brought to the knowledge of States.

The Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs vide Letter No.33-(2020-NDM-I dated 14/03/2020 informed the chief secretaries of all the states in India that Government of India has notified Corona Virus as disaster and list of items and norms was annexed with the letter for providing assistance to those affected by corona virus. The first item in the list was Ex-Gratia payment of Rs4Lakh, per deceased person including those involved in relief operations. There were other items and norms also. However, in the present case I am discussing on payment of Ex Gratia amount.

It is quite surprising that on 14/03/2020 another modified list was sent to all states by Ministry of Home Affairs and in the said list payment of Ex-Gratia amount of Rs4lakh was removed. It is pertinent to mention that Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs vide letter No.32-7/2014-NDM-I, dated 08/04/2015, provided revised list of items and norms to be followed by states as disaster relief for its citizens. The first item in the said list was Ex-Gratia payment of Rs4lakh to deceased person.

The Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs again issued letter No.33-5/2017-NDM-I and informed all states in India to follow norms and items annexed in the list along with the letter for providing relief during disaster. The list which was annexed with the letter was the same which was circulated on 08/04/2015 containing first item as Ex-gratia payment of Rs4Lakh to deceased.

There is no justification for not providing EX-Gratia Payment of Rs4Lakh to deceased persons and Government of India is bound under Disaster management Act, 2005 to provide the same. The deletion of item from subsequent letter dated 14/03/2020, is a malafide act on part of Government of India. Under section 12 of Disaster Management Act, it is the duty of Central Government to provide relief and rehabilitation to the affected persons due to disaster.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its judgment dated 18/08/2020 has held in case titled as Centre for Public Interest versus Union of India, WP(C )No.56/2020 that under section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, guidelines have been formulated for relief and rehabilitation of those who are affected by any disaster.

It has been held that section 12 does not contemplate that there shall be different guidelines for minimum standard of relief for different disasters. It is also observed by the court in para 47 of the said judgment that vide order dated 14/03/2020 Government of India has decided to treat Covid-19 as notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under State Disaster Response Fund, norms for assistance for ex-gratia payment to families has been notified by Government.

I have also come across another writ petition Civil No539/2021 titled as Gaurav Kumar Bansal versus Union of India, recently filed in Supreme court of India for seeking directions for payment of Ex-Gratia amount to those affected by Corona Virus pandemic. The hon’ble Supreme Court has issued notice in the said petition with direction to Union of India to file all policy documents under section 12 of Disaster management Act on record.

It appears that petitioner has not brought to the notice of court that in WP (C )No.56/2020, it has already held by Hon’ble Supreme Court that Ex gratia payment has been fixed by Government and the same is applicable for Covid-19 pandemic also. The Government has deliberately not informed the court about previous judgment regarding relief to be granted to victims of Covid-19 Pandemic.

I also sought information from ministry of Home affairs under Right to Information regarding amount of Compensation fixed to be paid to deceased victim of Corona Virus. However shocking reply has been received from Government of India that no compensation has been fixed to be paid to victim of Corona Virus under Disaster Management Act.

As discussed above Government cannot escape its duty to pay Ex-gratia payment under section 12 of Disaster management Act and every victim has right to claim compensation from Government of India as well as State Government.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Hitender Kapur, Advocate
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: JL34740941303-09-0721

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