A petition has been filed with the Allahabad High Court's Lucknow Bench, seeking directions to the Central and State Governments to enact a schemeunder the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to pay ex gratia compensation to the families of those who died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plea also seeks refund of cost of hospitalization from the State Relief Fund.
The petition was filed by Advocate Rajat Rajan Singh on behalf of one Dr. Sandeep Pandey, who claims to be a social worker. He has emphasised that Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act requires the payment of an ex-gratia sum to those who have been affected by the disaster.
"In the second wave of COVID19 pandemic there is complete failure of health care system…people are dying because they are unable to get on the medical care they deserve as Citizen of this country, and for this the Government is absolutely liable. Therefore, as a compensatory measure and some relief to the family of victims, the State Government should frame a scheme for payment of Ex-Gratia amount to the family of deceased person who lost his life to COVID 19," the plea states.
The Petitioner also stated that despite the fact that it has been one year since Covid-19 was declared a disaster in March 2020, the National Policy of Disaster Management has not been revised or updated to provide effective measures to prevent the virus's spread.
In terms of the pandemic, it is said that the current National Policy is an inadequate structure. "Non review/ updation of State Disaster Management Plan is the reason of present crisis. Despite knowing about the virus, the Government did not created any infrastructure dedicated for COVID-19, so that if second wave comes the Government would be ready and people will atleast gets beds to get admitted," According to the plea, Such government action/inaction, it is argued, is a total breach of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which ensures the right to life and health.
The Supreme Court held in Nilabati Behera alias Lalita Behera v. State of Orissa, (1993) 2 SC 746, that a demand in public law for compensation for violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, whose security is guaranteed in the Constitution, is an agreed remedy for enforcing and protecting those rights.
The Petitioner has also cited the doctrine of Parents Patriae to argue that the government functions as a parent to its citizens, and that as a result, the government should take all steps for repatriation, rehabilitation, and welfare of the citizens. On Monday (May 10, 2021), a Division Bench comprised of Justices Ritu Raj Awasthi and Manish Mathur heard the case.
The Supreme Court had previously recommended that the Central Government consider paying compensation and other damages to the victims in a suo motu case involving Covid management, according to the Bench. A PIL has also been filed in the Allahabad High Court's Principal Bench, which addresses all Covid-related issues.
As a result, the case was adjourned until July by the Division Bench. It went on to say that in the meantime, if the Apex Court or this Court in Allahabad make a decision in this regard, it will be recorded.