Cannot compensate deaths due to COVID: Centre tells SC

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Image: Ankit Pal
Image: Ankit Pal

New Delhi : Centre on Sunday told Supreme Court that they cannot compensate the families of COVID victims as it comes under the natural disaster. The statement added that the states cannot afford Rs 4 lakh each as compensation to the coronavirus victims.

In a 183-page affidavit, Centre has claimed that if compensation is given for COVID then denying it for deaths due to other diseases will be unfair.

The Centre clarified that more than 3.85 lakh people have died due to coronavirus and if states compensate all then there will be an unbearable financial strain on the states.

The government's response comes after the Supreme Court asked it to inform its policy on Covid compensation and death certificates after a plea asked for Rs 4 lakh for victims.

Centre explained that Disaster Management Law implies to natural disasters like an earthquake or flood. Going by the scale of the pandemic, releasing compensation will not be feasible.

The centre in its affidavit also said due to increased health expenses and low tax revenue, states cannot afford to pay compensation for lakhs of Covid victims.

"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 centre added in its affidavit.

The government also reminded the top court of its earlier judgment to keep away from executive policies and said the judiciary cannot decide on behalf of the centre.

"It is well settled through numerous judgements of the Supreme Court that this is a matter which should be performed by the authority, to whom it has been entrusted and not one where the court will substitute its own judgement for the decision to be taken by the executive," the goverment said.

The Supreme Court will now hear the matter on Monday.