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Delhi HC Seeks Centre, NDMA Response on Plea for Covid-19 Ex-gratia Compensation

The petitioner claims that her husband succumbed to COVID-19 in May. (File photo of Delhi High Court : PTI)

The petitioner claims that her husband succumbed to COVID-19 in May. (File photo of Delhi High Court : PTI)

Justice Rekha Palli issued notice on the petition and also sought response from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The Delhi High Court Friday sought response from the central government on a petition by a 43-year-old woman seeking ex gratia monetary compensation for the death of her husband due to COVID-19. Justice Rekha Palli issued notice on the petition and also sought response from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The petitioner claims that her husband succumbed to COVID19 in May after the virus severely affected his respiratory system. It is NDMA's statutory duty and Constitutional obligation to provide guidelines for ex-gratia assistance in case of death on account of COVID-19 which is a notified disaster, the petition said.

…to provide such ex- gratia assistance on account of loss of life is not only a statutory obligation under Section 12 of the DMA (Disaster Management Act) 2005, but it is the constitutional obligation also since it also affects the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, it said. It added that the law further puts a constitutional and statutory obligation on the part of the Central/State Government to recommend guidelines for providing ex gratia assistance which is in the nature of sustenance assistance.

The Supreme Court has already directed 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 but the determination of reasonable amount to be offered towards ex gratia assistance was left to the wisdom of Authority, it said. On June 30, the apex court had directed the NDMA and the Centre to issue within six weeks, fresh guidelines for providing minimum standards of financial help to families of those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

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The Supreme Court had rejected the Centre's stand that the DMA provision casting an obligation on the NDMA to pay ex-gratia compensation in the event of death was discretionary and not directory. The matter would be heard next on November 18.

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first published:September 10, 2021, 18:45 IST