The Supreme Court today lashed out at state governments for delays in compensation payments for deaths due to Covid. The court rapped the governments of Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Rajasthan. The SC had in October approved the payment of Rs 50,000 to families of people who died of Covid-19, to be paid over and above the amounts paid by centre and state under various benevolent schemes.
A two-judge bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna was hearing the matter.
“We are not at all happy with the affidavit filed by the Maharashtra government. Over 1 lakh deaths have been recorded in Maharashtra but only 37,000 applications were received. Not a single person has been paid compensation yet,” Justice Shah told the lawyer for the Maharashtra Government. It was “ridiculous” and cannot be accepted, he added.
When Sachin Patil, the lawyer for the Maharashtra government sought more time to start disbursing the compensation and said, “We will file an affidavit on compliance soon”, Justice Shah warned him that the court would pass strictures against the state government. “You keep it (the affidavit) in your pocket and give it to your CM,” he said.
The Supreme Court then ordered the Maharashtra government to start making compensation payments immediately.
In the case of West Bengal, the court noted that there have been over 19,000 Covid deaths but only 467 applications have been received. Further, only 110 out of them have been paid compensation so far.
The court added that most state governments set up the online portals after December 3, only after being issued a notice by the Supreme Court.”State governments woke up and set up online portals only after courts compelled them to work,” Justice Shah remarked.
Turning to Rajasthan, the court noted that nearly 9,000 Covid deaths were recorded in the state, out of which only 595 applications have been received so far and compensation has not been paid to anyone yet. Justice Shah hit out at the lawyer for the state government and said, “Tell your government to be human.”
The court also directed these state governments to ensure wider publicity through newspapers, television, and radio about the compensation scheme so that more people can come forward.
The next hearing of the case will take place on December 10.