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States Should Not Deny Ex-Gratia For COVID Deaths On Ground That Death Certificate Does Not Mention COVID As Cause Of Death : Supreme Court

Srishti Ojha
4 Oct 2021 6:22 AM GMT
States Should Not Deny Ex-Gratia For COVID Deaths On Ground That Death Certificate Does Not Mention COVID As Cause Of Death : Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court on Monday ordered that no state should deny the ex-gratia compensation of Rs 50,000 to the kin of persons who died of COVID on the sole ground that the death certificate does not mention COVID as the cause of death.The Court noted that as per the NDMA guidelines, the following cases are treated as COVID deaths :1. Diagnosed as COVID positive through a positive...

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The Supreme Court on Monday ordered that no state should deny the ex-gratia compensation of Rs 50,000 to the kin of persons who died of COVID on the sole ground that the death certificate does not mention COVID as the cause of death.

The Court noted that as per the NDMA guidelines, the following cases are treated as COVID deaths :

1. Diagnosed as COVID positive through a positive RT-PCR/Molecular Tests/RAT or clinically determined through investigations in a hospital/in-patient facility by a treating physician, while admitted in the hospital/in-patient facility.

2. Deaths occurring within 30 days from the date of testing or from the date of being clinically determined as a Covid-19 case shall be treated as "Deaths due to Covid-19", even if the death takes place outside the hospital/in-patient facility.

3.  Covid-19 case while admitted in the hospital/in-patient facility and who continued to be admitted beyond 30 days and died subsequently.

4.  Covid-19 cases which are not resolved and have died either in the hospital settings or at home, and where a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) in Form 4 & 4A has been issued to the registering authority, as required under Section 10 of the Registration of Birth & Death (RBD) Act, 1969, shall also be treated as Covid-19 death.

If the case is covered by the above criteria, compensation should not be denied on the ground that the certificate does not mention COVID as a cause of death.

The order stated :

"However, it is made clear that irrespective of the cause of death mentioned in the death certificate, if a family member satisfies the eligibility criteria mentioned in paragraphs 11(i) to 11(iv) as above shall also be entitled to the ex-gratia payment of Rs. 50,000/- on production of requisite documents as observed hereinabove, and no State shall deny the ex-gratia payment of Rs. 50,000/- on the ground that in the death certificate the cause of death is not mentioned as "Died due to Covid-19".

A bench comprising Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna passed the order while approving the guidelines issued by the National Disaster Management Authority for grant of compensation in COVID death cases.

The bench also said that the next kin of the deceased shall be paid an amount of Rs 50,000 from the State Disaster Response Funds and it will be over and above the amounts paid by centre and state under various benevolent schemes.

Such amount will be disbursed within 30 days of submitting application and cause of death being certified as of COVID19.

The court has also directed the publication of the details of the district level authorities and grievance redressal committee in media.

Family has power to approach Grievance Redressal Committee on denial of ex-gratia

"If any family member/kin of the deceased died due to Covid0-19 has any grievance with respect to non-receipt of the ex-gratia payment of Rs. 50,000/-, it will be open for the aggrieved claimant to approach the Grievance Redressal Committee, and the Grievance Redressal Committee shall examine the contemporaneous medical record of the deceased patient, and take a decision within a period of 30 days from approaching the said Grievance Redressal Committee and such Grievance Redressal Committee shall have powers to call for the details/documents from the concerned hospital/hospitals from where the deceased took the treatment".

As per the NDMA guidelines, the Grievance Redressal Committee at district level consists of Additional District Collector, Chief Medical Officer of Health(CMOH), Additional CMOH/Principal or HOD Medicine of a Medical College ( if one existing in the district) and a subject expert.

Anomalies in death certificates already issued can be corrected

"In cases of the death certifications already issued and any family member of the deceased is aggrieved by the cause of death mentioned in the death certificate already issued, it will be open for the aggrieved person to move the appropriate authority who issued the death certificate and/or registering authority and on production of the necessary documents as observed hereinabove, including production of documents, such as, positive RT-PCR/ Molecular Tests/ RAT OR clinically determined through investigations in a hospital/ in-patient facility by a treating physician, while admitted in the hospital/ in-patient facility, the concerned authority shall modify/amend such death certificates. If the person is still aggrieved, it will be open for the aggrieved person to approach the Grievance Redressal Committee constituted as hereinabove and the concerned registering authority shall ratify/amend the death certificate as directed by the Grievance Redressal Committee"

The NDMA framed the guidelines for grant of compensation for COVID deaths following the directions issued by the Supreme Court in its June 30 judgment in the PILs filed by Reepak Kansal and Gaurav Kumar Bansal.

Later, Guarav Kumar Bansal filed an application seeking implementation of the directions. Following that, the NDMA framed guidelines, recommending ex-gratia compensation of Rs 50,000 to the relatives of persons certified as having died of COVID, which is to be paid by the States from the State Disaster Response Funds.

The guidelines also prescribed Grievance Redressal Committees at district and state levels to deal with grievances relating to anomalies in death certificates issued by hospitals in cases of COVID deaths.

Case Title : Gaurav Kuma Bansal v. Union of India|MA 1120/2021 in W.P.(C) No. 539/202

Citation : LL 2021 SC 536

Click here to read/download the order



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