Can’t Pay Rs 4 Lakh Compensation to Covid Victims, Will Exhaust Funds, Centre Tells SC

The centre has told the Supreme court that Rs 4 lakh compensation cannot be paid to all those who died of Covid-19 as it would exhaust the disaster relief funds. The centre added that the compensation couldn’t be provided as the disaster management law that mandates compensation applies only to natural disasters.

The statement of the centre came in response to a plea seeking “minimum standards of relief” and ex-gratia payment to Covid-19 deceased, a report in India Today said.

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According to the Union Health Ministry data, 3.86 lakh people have died of the coronavirus pandemic since it began last year.

“If ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh is given for every person who loses life due to Covid-19, the entire amount of SDRF may possibly be spent on this item alone, and indeed the total expenditure may go up further,” the Centre said in an affidavit submitted to Supreme Court.

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The centre also said due to increased health expenses and low tax revenue it is beyond states’ budget to pay compensation for lakhs of Covid victims.

“If the entire SDRF funds get consumed on ex-gratia for Covid-19 victims, the States may not have sufficient funds for organizing Covid-19 response, for provision of various essential medical and other supplies, or to take care of other disasters like cyclones, floods, etc. Hence, the prayer of the petitioner for payment of ex-gratia to all deceased persons due to Covid-19, is beyond the fiscal affordability of the State governments,” the Centre reportedly added.

The report said the centre also reminded the apex court of its earlier judgment to keep away from executive policies and said the judiciary cannot decide on behalf of the centre. The Supreme Court will hear the case on Monday.

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