In a 183-page-affidavit, the central government informed the Supreme Court that the families of Covid-19 victims will not be provided with a 4 lakh compensation, as it applies only to natural disasters.
It added that it will not be able to compensate, as the Covid-19 cases have caused the states a financial constraint.
The Supreme Court had asked the Centre to provide information on the policy of Covid-19 compensation for victims and death certificate after a plea was filed asking for Rs 4 lakh for victims.
The Disaster Management Law states that the compensation applies to natural disasters like earthquake, and floods.
The centre said looking at the scale of Covid-19, which has caused more than 3.85 lakh deaths, it would not be appropriate to apply the scheme for the Covid-19 pandemic.
The affidavit also said that since the health expenditure has increased with low tax revenue. The state governments will not be able to provide lakhs as compensation to victims. It said,
“Utilisation of scarce resources for giving ex-gratia may have unfortunate consequences of affecting the pandemic response and health expenditure in other aspects and hence cause more damage than good.”
The affidavit makes it mandatory to include death related to Covid-19 in the death certificate. The doctors who fail to include this will be penalised.
Delhi announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to be provided if a casualty is reported due to lack of oxygen. Madhya Pradesh also announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for Covid-19 deaths.
The centre’s affidavit was filed in the Supreme Court as an acknowledgement to the May 24 order directing additional solicitor general, Aishwarya Bhati, to submit a response for a plea filed by advocates Gaurav Bansal and Reepak Kansal.
The plea asked the central government to provide compensation of 4 lakh to the families of Covid-19 victims. The plea was filed referring to Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, the act fixed the amount of Rs 4 lakh for victims of natural disasters.
The Centre said the ex-gratia amount will be provided from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) for 2021-2022, which has been cumulatively allocated Rs 22,184.
“If an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh is given for every person who loses life due to Covid-19, the entire amount of SDRF may be spent on this item alone, and indeed the total expenditure may go up further,” the affidavit said.
The central government asserted in the affidavit, if the states provide an ex-gratia amount for Covid-19 deaths, states may run out of funds for appropriate Covid-19 response.
It will negatively impact the resources for essential medical supplies or to prepare an appropriate response to natural disasters like earthquakes and floods.
“It is an unfortunate, but important fact that the resources of the governments have limits and any additional burden through ex gratia will reduce the funds available for other health and welfare schemes,” said the centre.
The centre also requested the Supreme Court that the determination of the Covid-19 relief should be left at the discretion of the central government. The Supreme Court on 21 June, reserved the verdict.
The special bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah has asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to share details of compensation paid by each state to the families of the Covid-19 victims.