The Supreme Court on Monday, 6 December, pulled up the Maharashtra and West Bengal governments for a low number of applications for ex gratia compensation of Rs 50,000 to next of kin of COVID-19 victims.
A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna told the Maharashtra government counsel that over one lakh deaths occurred in the state, and there is such a low number of applications from families for compensation.
"This is ridiculous... we may have to pass strictures against you," the bench warned during the hearing.
The bench also asked the West Bengal government counsel about the disbursement of compensation to families of COVID-19 victims, saying that over 19,000 deaths due to COVID-19 occurred and the state government has given compensation to 110.
"Only, if we compel you to work, will you work?" the bench told counsel.
The Maharashtra government informed the top court that it has received nearly 35,000 applications for COVID-19 compensation and nearly one lakh people have made their user ID on the designated website. The bench asked both states to file their compliance affidavit by 15 December.
The court also pulled up two more state governments for low number of applications for compensation despite staggering death figures.
The bench questioned why few persons have applied for compensation, and emphasised on giving wider publicity to the compensation scheme through newspapers, TV, radio etc.
SC Approves Ex Gratia Pay for Kin of COVID-19 Victims
The Supreme Court in its October 4 judgment had approved Rs 50,000, ex gratia compensation for the kin of COVID-19 victims, which was recommended by the National Disaster Management Authority. The order was passed on the plea of advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal.
In the previous hearing, the top court had issued notice to several states over the abysmally low disbursal rate of COVID-19 compensation.
On 29 November, the Supreme Court expressed concern at state governments grappling with various issues in connection with the distribution of the compensation.
The top court directed the chief secretaries of various state governments to furnish full particulars to the Union government, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Disaster Management Authority, and had scheduled the matter for further hearing on 6 December.