SC asks States to Compensate Kids Orphaned by Covid

20 Jan, 2022 15:27 IST|Sakshi Post

The Supreme Court ordered states to contact 10,000 children who have been orphaned as a result of COVID and to compensate them.

The bench noted that the majority of states had rejected a large number of claims, citing Gujarat (4,234), Maharashtra (49,113), Tamil Nadu (10,138), and Telangana (1,489) as examples in a chart given by Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, standing for the Centre.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court urged all state governments to reach out to nearly 10,000 children who lost both parents to COVID-19 and offer them compensation on Wednesday in an effort to help them.

The Supreme Court, enraged by the non-disbursement of Rs 50,000 ex-gratia to the kin of those who died as a result of COVID-19, summoned the state governments and virtually summoned the Chief Secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar to seek an explanation throughout the course of the day.

It also sent a show-cause notice to Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma, asking why no contempt proceedings were taken against him for failing to comply with the top court's prior judgement on claim disbursement.

The submissions of petitioner Gaurav Bansal and advocate Sumeer Sodhi, appearing for intervenors, that over 10,000 children have been orphaned due to COVID and other reasons since the start of the pandemic, and that they are compensated, were taken into consideration by a bench of Justices M R Shah and Sanjiv Khanna.

According to figures posted on the NCPCR's Baal Swaraj portal, about 10,000 children have lost both parents or have one surviving parent across the country. Making an application or filing a claim for compensation will be extremely difficult for them.

"We direct the concerned states to reach out to those children, who have lost both their parents and whose particulars are already uploaded on the Baal Swaraj portal so that the amount of compensation can be paid to them," the court added.

We further direct the concerned states to provide the respective State Legal Service Authority with full information and specifics on the number of deaths reported by the concerned states, as well as the particulars and information published in the Baal Swaraj portal, added.

The bench stated that a detailed order would be issued by Thursday.

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The Supreme Court was considering a slew of petitions from Bansal and intervenors seeking ex-gratia compensation for COVID-19 victims' families.

The bench noted that the majority of states had rejected a large number of claims, citing Gujarat (4,234), Maharashtra (49,113), Tamil Nadu (10,138), and Telangana as examples in a chart given by Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, standing for the Centre (1,489).

It's possible that rejections are due to an incomplete form or missing information. The bench stated that when claims are denied, the grounds for the denial must be communicated to the claimants, who may be given the opportunity to correct their applications.

We further remark that no claims will be denied on technical grounds and that if there are any flaws in the application, the interested claimants will be given an opportunity to correct the errors before being paid compensation, it stated.

The top court further stated that within a week of Wednesday, such details of the denials must be communicated to the applicant as well as the pertinent grievance redressal committee (established pursuant to an earlier decision issued by this court).

Both Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma and Bihar Chief Secretary Amir Subhani were essentially present throughout the post-lunch session.

Andhra Pradesh's senior advocate, R Basant, and standing counsel, Mahfooz A Nazki, updated the data previously provided, stating that the state had received 41,292 claim applications, of which 34,819 were judged to be eligible.

He stated that around 6,400 cases were rejected and that 23,835 eligible claimants received compensation. He also stated that 10,984 claimants are owed money, of whom 5,141 have been cleared and would be paid within three days.

Sharma assured the court that he would personally oversee the payment of claims and that 6,400 cases that had been rejected would be reviewed suo motu. If it is determined that the cases have been rejected due to a lack of information or documentation, the field officer would contact all claimants and give them the opportunity to correct the problems.

The court took note of the submission and stated, "The Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh has assured the court that the state will ensure that not a single claimant who is eligible for compensation will be denied compensation and that all efforts will be made to reach them and that compensation will be paid." We trust and expect that the chief secretary will follow the aforementioned instructions and stand by what he has promised in court.

Bihar Chief Secretary and attorney Abhinav Mukerji, speaking on behalf of the state government, stated that 11,095 claims have been paid out of 13,250 deaths registered.

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He said that the state government is giving Rs 4.5 lakh in compensation to the relatives of a person who died as a result of COVID and that no other state is doing so.

The bench stated that, in comparison to other states, Bihar's applications/claims are on the lower end of the scale, and that, given the state's unique characteristics, additional efforts are needed to reach out to the eligible persons/kin/family members of those who have perished as a result of COVID-19.

Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Jharkhand were also reprimanded by the Supreme Court for having a low number of claims disbursals.

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