SC seeks reply on uniform policy on Covid death certificates

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New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday suggested there must be a uniform policy and also some guidelines for issuance of death certificates for those affected by Covid-19.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M.R. Shah said many a time the reason given in a death certificate can be heart attack or lung failure, but these could be triggered by Covid-19.
“So, how are death certificates being issued?” it asked the government’s counsel.
The top court was hearing two petitions, filed by advocates Reepak Kansal and Gaurav Kumar Bansal, citing Section 12 (iii) of the Disaster Management Act (DMA) providing for ex gratia monetary compensation for the families of those who died during a notified disaster.
Kansal’s petition sought death certificates issued to Covid-19 deceased must specify the cause of death as Covid-19 and not complications connected with the viral infection. Bansal’s plea sought Rs 4 lakh compensation to kin of each person who died after contracting Covid-19.
The top court issued notice to the Centre on both the pleas.
Justice Shah asked Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre: “Is there any uniform policy for issuance of death certificate?”
The bench observed that if benefit were to be given under Section 12 of the DMA, then there should be uniform guidelines. It asked the Centre and the ICMR to state the policy in connection with the act, and also queried how would the implementation of this policy work, for payment of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of deceased, after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic under the Act.
As the Centre’s counsel sought three weeks to file reply in the matter, the top court asked it to the file the response in 10 days “whether there is a uniform policy for issuance of death certificate”.
The plea by Bansal said: “It is respectfully submitted that as per Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, it is the fundamental duty of National Disaster Management Authority to provide minimum standards of relief to persons affected by Disaster. As per Section 12 (iii) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, NDMA is duty bound to provide ex-gratia assistance on account of loss to the persons affected by Disaster.”
Citing Section 12 (iii) of the Disaster management Act, 2005, the plea contended that NDMA on April 8, 2015, issued items and norms of assistance from the State Disaster Response Fund and the National Disaster Response Fund. However, this notification was applicable for the period 2015-20. On March 14, 2020, the Centre through a notification declared COVID-19 a notified disaster under DMA.
“It is respectfully submitted that as per the said respondent No 01 (Centre) has decided to pay Rs 4 lakh as ex gratia payment to per deceased person including those ‘involved in relief operations or associated in preparedness activities’,” added Bansal’s plea.
The plea urged the top court to issue directions to the Centre and state governments to provide social security and rehabilitation to victims of Covid-19 victims.

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