Supreme Court Expresses Concern Over Fake Covid Death Certificates

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The Supreme Court Monday expressed concern over fake Covid death certificates being issued by doctors for ex-gratia compensation and observed that it might order a probe into the issue.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna also said that there should be some time limit for claims seeking compensation.

“What is worrying is the fake certificate given by doctors… It is a very serious thing”, the bench observed.

The top court said that there must be some time limit, otherwise, the process will go endlessly.

“Please suggest how can we curb the issue of fake certificates being issued by the doctors. It may take away someone’s real opportunity”, the bench said.

At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that there should be an outer time limit for submitting claims.

“I would urge your lordship to have some outer line for the deaths that have already occurred…This process may not be endless,” Mehta said.

The Solicitor General submitted that the top court has ordered that an RT-PCR certificate was not necessary for compensation and the same can be allowed based on a doctor’s certificate. “This relaxation is being misused”, he said.

The bench sought suggestions on the issue and posted the matter for hearing on March 14.

The top court had earlier directed all states governments and Union Territories to appoint a dedicated nodal officer to coordinate with the member secretary of the state legal service authority (SLSA) to facilitate payment of ex gratia compensation to family members of COVID-19 victims It had also directed the state governments to give full particulars like name, address, and death certificate to the concerned SLSA, as also complete details concerning orphans, within one week from today (Friday) failing which the matter shall be viewed very seriously.

The top court had reiterated that applications seeking compensation should not be rejected on technical grounds and if any technical glitch is found, the states concerned should give them an opportunity to cure defects as the ultimate goal of the welfare state is to provide some solace and compensation to victims.

The top court was hearing a batch of pleas filed by Gaurav Bansal and intervenors, represented by advocate Sumeer Sodhi, seeking ex-gratia assistance to family members of COVID-19 victims.

The top court, which was annoyed over the non-disbursal of ₹ 50,000 ex-gratia to the kin/family members of those who lost their lives due to COVID-19, had pulled up the state governments.

It had said on October 4, 2021, that no state shall deny ex-gratia of ₹ 50,000 to the next of kin of the deceased due to COVID-19 solely on the ground that the death certificate does not mention the virus as the cause of death.

The court had also said that the ex-gratia is to be disbursed within 30 days from the date of applying to the district disaster management authority or the district administration concerned along with the proof of the death of the deceased due to coronavirus and the cause of death being certified as died due to COVID-19.

The top court had said that its directions for payment of compensation to the family members of the persons, who died due to COVID-19, are very clear and there was no requirement at all of constituting the scrutiny committee to award compensation.

It had said it was very much made clear that even in a case where, in the death certificate, the cause is not shown as death due to COVID-19 but if found that deceased was declared positive for coronavirus and has died within 30 days, automatically his or her family members are entitled to the compensation without any further conditions.

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