In the matter of Gaurav Bansal vs Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 539/2021, the Supreme Court on September 23, 2021, expressed contentment with the Centre’s decision and consequent guidelines framed by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the ex-gratia compensation for COVID-19 deaths is fixed as Rs 50,000 which will be paid by the States from the State Disaster Response Fund. The bench comprised of Justice M.R. Shah & Justice A.S. Bopanna, orally observed that the government’s decision would bring peace to the grieving people and also asked to take note that what India did, no other nation could do.
Originally, the Gaurav Bansal petition was filed along with another Writ Petition (Civil) No. 554/2021, Reepak Kansal vs Union of India. These two writ petitions were filed in the public interest seeking a direction to respondent(s) to provide notified ex-gratia monitory compensation of Rs.4,00,000/- (Rupees four lakh only) to the families of deceased who succumbed to COVID-19.
The court was hearing an application regarding the framing of guidelines for compensation and simplification of the process of issuing death certificates of the people who died of Covid. The National Disaster Management Authority has framed the guidelines based on the direction of the Supreme Court on June 30, 2021 wherein the Apex court directed the NDMA to recommend guidelines for ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life to the family members of the persons who died due to Covid-19, as mandated under Section 12(iii) of DMA 2005 for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to the persons affected by disaster – Covid 19 Pandemic, over and above the guidelines already recommended for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by Covid-19. However, what reasonable amount to be offered towards ex gratia assistance is left to the wisdom of National Authority which may consider determining the amount taking into consideration the observations made hereinabove, such as, requirement/availability of the fund under the NDRF/SDRF for other reliefs and the priorities determined by the National Authority/Union Government and the fund required for other minimum standards of relief and fund required for prevention, preparedness, mitigation and recovery and other reliefs to carry out the obligation under DMA 2005.
The Court said that it will pass appropriate orders on October 4, 2021.