A petition has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking adequate ex-gratia monetary compensation to the next of kin of all Indian citizens who succumb to COVID-19, especially for the financially weaker sections of society.
The PIL, which is likely to come up for hearing in the coming days, also sought a direction to the Centre as well as the state governments to formulate an appropriate 'compensation plan' to provide ex-gratia monetary compensation to the kin of essential/ healthcare workers who have succumbed to COVID-19.
It urged the court to seek a status report from the governments on the total number of COVID-19 related causalities and measures taken by the authorities for compensating the loss of life due to this disaster in the country as well as abroad.
The petition claimed that majority of the country's population belongs to financially weaker sections of the society, wherein only one person is an earning member and the others in the family solely dependent on that income for their sustenance.
"The said citizens are also the tax payers of our country. In such a structure, whereby the death rate is only increasing at an alarming rate per day, it is imperative for the State to formulate appropriate guidelines, on compassionate grounds, for ex-gratia compensation to the families of the COVID-19 casualties, especially for the front-line workers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical staff etc., solely with the purpose of aiding the families for their basic survival and sustenance during this pandemic," the plea said.
"Pertinently, the death of an Indian citizen not only impacts his/her own personal life, it affects the lives of all the members of the family who were dependent on the sole source of income. In the event of death of such a family member and while regarding the huge unemployment which COVID-19 has encompassed globally, the dependents are with no finances for survival," the plea, filed by advocate Deepak Prakash, said.
It claimed that the death rate due to COVID-19 is exponentially increasing with each passing hour, especially in cases of front-line workers such as police officials, doctors, para medical staff, government employees, media reporters etc., thereby rendering the whole family of the deceased in an extremely vulnerable position.
"Till date COVID-19 has no cure/vaccine and has been declared as a notified 'disaster', thus, it is the duty of the State, on compassionate grounds, to provide relief to its citizens by adequately compensating the kin of the deceased in order to financially assist the families thereof, who are in an extremely vulnerable and helpless position, having suffered due to the outbreak of this deadly virus," it said.