A bench of MR Shah and BV Nagarathna of the Supreme Court on Monday slammed the Gujarat government for constituting a scrutiny committee for the disbursal of ex-gratia compensation to the families of those who died of COVID-19. The move of the state government is in deviation from the approved process. The top court further asked the Centre to present the data from different governments regarding the ex-gratia compensation for COVID deaths. The court also sought information on setting up of grievance redressal committees.
Following the plea of advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, Rs 50,000 was approved as ex-gratia compensation for the families of Covid victims by the court in its October 4 judgement. The amount was recommended by the National Disaster Management Authority.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Gujarat government, submitted that an amended resolution has been issued. However, the SC observed that the scrutiny committee seems to be overreaching its directions.
The amended resolution too needs some tweaking, said Mehta. However, the bench slammed, "Who passed the first notification? Someone should take responsibility?" Mehta took up the responsibility, but the bench retorted that the officer concerned must be held responsible.
"Who drafted this? Who approved this? Whose brain child is it?" the bench asked the additional chief secretary who had joined the virtual hearing. The official informed that it was drafted in the department and approved by the competent authority. "Who is the competent authority?" the bench asked, to which he clarified that it is the chief minister. "Your chief minister does not know anything? Mr secretary, you are there for what? If this is your application of your mind..." the court said. This is just a bureaucratic attempt to delay and mess up the matter, the bench added.
Though Mehta cited a few fake claims of compensation, the bench continued to slam the government and said, "It will take one year to get the certificate from the scrutiny committee?" Furthermore, fake claims cannot be an obstacle for genuine people, the bench added.
Mehta assured that the concerns of the court would be addressed and the resolution would be modified. Mehta urged the bench to list the matter for next Monday, and the court fixed the matter for further hearing on November 29.