Families of those who have died from COVID-19 cannot be given a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each as rules of disaster management only apply to natural calamities like floods and earthquakes, the Centre has told the Supreme Court.
The government’s 183-page response was filed before the apex court on Saturday, 19 June, following a PIL seeking “minimum standards of relief” and ex-gratia payment to those who died of COVID-19.
In its response, the Centre added that if Rs 4 lakh is paid to the family member of every COVID-19 victim, then it would deplete all funds under the State Disaster Response Fund.
“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.”Centre’s affidavit before the Supreme Court.
Seeking to explain its stance on the matter, the Centre said that spending all available funds under SDRF would leave no money for mounting an effective response against the virus, “including provision of various essential medical and other supplies, or to take care of other disasters like cyclones, floods, etc.”
Nearly four lakh people have died of COVID-19 and compensation for each of them would be beyond the “fiscal affordability of governments,” the Centre said.
Count COVID-19 Deaths Outside Hospitals As Well
In its affidavit, the Centre also said that all coronavirus deaths should be recorded as such, irrespective of where it happened, while promising to take action against doctors who wail to comply with the order.
Till now, only deaths of COVID patients that took place in hospitals were certified as COVID, not the ones that happened at home or even at hospital parking lots, leading to a discrepancy in fatality figures that ran into lakhs.