Disposing of a petition, which sought compensation for the kin of victims of COVID-19 by treating it as medical negligence, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 8 September, said courts cannot presume that all deaths due to COVID-19 in the second wave of the pandemic were due to medical negligence.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli asked the petitioner Deepak Raj Singh to amend his plea and approach the competent authorities with his suggestions, Indian Express reported.
The bench said, “To assume that each death due to COVID-19 took place due to negligence is too much.”
The court further added that the second wave had such an impact across the country that “courts cannot have a presumption that all COVID deaths happened due to medical negligence, which your petition does”, The Indian Express reported.
The apex court was referring to a recent verdict of 30 June, in which the top court had directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to recommend within six weeks, appropriate guidelines for ex-gratia assistance to the kin of people who died due to COVID-19.
“In that verdict the court has taken a view with regard to humanity and not due to negligence," the top court was quoted as saying.
However, the government is yet to come out with the policy, the SC added and said, “If you have any suggestion with regard to implementation of that policy, you can approach the competent authority.”
Advocate Sriram Parakat, appearing for the petitioner, however argued that his petition was different since it wanted to take medical negligence into account and demand compensation for deaths which happened because of it.
The plea was dismissed noting that several developments have taken place since the petition was filed in May, the bench said, “We have taken suo motu cognizance on COVID preparedness and a National Task Force has been constituted by this court which is looking into several aspects.”
(With inputs from The Indian Express)