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Grievances Across India That Deaths Caused By COVID May Not Have Been Appropriately Recorded: Madras High Court Seeks State, Centre Reply

Sparsh Upadhyay
11 Jun 2021 2:06 PM GMT
Madras High Court, covid death in India, Under reporting, COVID Death Data, COVID Deaths Not Appropriately Recorded, COVID Data, Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, death DUE to Covid-19,
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Image Courtesy: Amit Pandey/Freelance Journalist

The Madras High Court on Friday noted that all over the country, there are grievances that all the deaths that have been caused by the pandemic may not have been appropriately recorded.

The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy noted that as far as Tamil Nadu was concerned, there are reports that unless a positive test report was issued in respect of the patient, the subsequent death would not be recorded as a Covid death.

"There are other issues pertaining to not attributing the death to Covid-19 in the event the patient suffered from other ailments," the Court added.

Significantly, the Court was hearing a plea that sought framing and implementation of an effective policy to ensure that cause of death is properly and correctly mentioned in the relevant certificate/official document for all cases of Covid-19 related deaths in accordance with the law, ICMR guidelines, and other relevant parameters.

The instant petition was filed exclusively in order to enable beneficiaries of government schemes to avail the same without any hindrance

Further, the Court opined that though the accurate reporting or recording of deaths would help in studies being undertaken to deal with a pandemic of this nature in the future, the immediate concern in some cases is that the relief that the family of a person who died due to Covid-19 is otherwise entitled to may not be available unless the death certificate attributes the cause of death to Covid-19.

Importantly, the Court remarked:

"It is elementary that the major ailment suffered by a person may result ultimately in the heart being attacked and the death due to such attack. However, the cause of the death in such a case may not be appropriately attributed to just a heart attack, but the underlying reason for the heart being attacked ought to be regarded as the real cause. So has it to be done in case of deaths triggered off by Covid-19, even if the person suffered from co-morbidities"

Lastly, the Court remarked:

  • It is necessary that an appropriate study be conducted by a specialized team, if necessary.
  • It would also be fit and proper to require death certificates already issued to be revised, if necessary; if only not to deny the relief due to the family of the deceased in terms of the several schemes announced by the Central and the State Governments.

Also, the Court sought responses from the State & Central Government and posted the matter for further hearing on June 28, 2021.

Case title - H. A. Shrirajalakshmi v. The Chief Secretary to Government, Government of Tamil Nadu

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