Covid deaths: Sample scrutiny of ex gratia claims on Supreme Court radar
To ensure this is done smoothly, the court wanted to entrust the task to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), as the claims were filed under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, which has provisions to tackle instances of fake claims.
A sample verification drive to weed out fake compensation claims should focus on states that have a wide divergence between registered Covid-19 deaths and the claims, the Supreme Court told the central government on Monday.
“Concentrate first on states which have shown a wide gap between the number of deaths and claims,” a bench of justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said, reserving its judgement on an application moved by Centre seeking permission to carry out a sample verification and to indicate a cut-off date for receiving further compensation claims. “Possibility of fake medical documents being used for filing claims will be more in states with 10,000 deaths, but where claims received are one lakh or more.” To ensure this is done smoothly, the court wanted to entrust the task to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), as the claims were filed under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, which has provisions to tackle instances of fake claims.
The court was responding to a submission by solicitor general Tushar Mehta that in several states, the order of the top court to swiftly provide ex gratia compensation of ₹50,000 for each Covid-19 death was misused, and the involvement of public officials could not be ruled out.
The number of claims rose significantly after the Supreme Court in an October 4 order held deaths that occurred within 30 days of a positive RT-PCR report, or discharge from hospital following Covid-19 treatment to be entitled to compensation.
The application moved by the central government also requested the court to fix an outer limit of four weeks for submitting compensation claims. “We will grant 60 days’ time for those who have already died to submit claims, and 90 days in case of any future death claim,” the bench said. “We will indicate this in our order so that the family gets appropriate time to file the relevant material or documents.”