Thu, 19 May 2022

New Delhi [India], January 19 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the states to reach out to children orphaned by the COVID-19 pandemic and pay compensation to them.

A Bench of Justices MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna told the states that many of these families were economically challenged and they may have been further crippled by the fact that COVID-19 took away their sole breadwinner.

In the entire country as per the information uploaded on Baal Swaraj portal of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), approximately 10,000 children have lost both the parent or a surviving parent, the Bench noted.

"It will be very difficult for them to make their application or submit the claim for compensation. We direct the concerned states to reach out to those children, who have lost both their parents and whose particulars are already uploaded in the Baal Swaraj portal and so that the amount of compensation can be paid to them," the top court observed.

It also directed the states to share the full information/particulars with regard to the number of deaths recorded by the concerned States as well as the information uploaded in Baal Swaraj portal to the concerned State legal service Authority.

The top court said it would pass a detailed order by Thursday.

The apex court was hearing a petition filed by lawyer-cum-petitioner, Gaurav Kumar Bansal, seeking an ex-gratia compensation for those family members, who died due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier, the top court had approved the Centre's disaster management guidelines on payment of Rs 50,000 ex-gratia compensation to the next kin of those who died of COVID-19 deaths and said the money to be disbursed within 30 days of applying.

Earlier in the day, the Bench summoned Chief Secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar for non-payment of ex-gratia compensation to the kin of the victims of COVID-19 despite the earlier orders of the court and asked them to remain present before it through a virtual hearing at 2 pm today.

The Apex Court observed that said Chief Secretaries should be showcased or action should not be taken against them for non-compliance. In the post-lunch session, both Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma and Bihar Chief Secretary Amir Subhani were present virtually.

The court noted from the chart submitted by Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, that majority of the states have rejected the number of claims and gave examples of Gujarat (4,234), Maharashtra (49,113), Tamil Nadu (10,138) and Telangana (1,489).

"The reasons for rejections may be due to incomplete form or particulars. We direct all concerned states that wherever the claims have been rejected the reasons for the rejection must be communicated to the concerned claimants and they may be given an opportunity to rectify their applications. We also observe that no claims shall be rejected on technical ground and if there are any lacunae in the application, an opportunity shall be given to the concerned claimants to rectify the mistakes, so that the concerned persons be paid the compensation," it said.

Such particulars of the rejections shall be sent to the applicant as well as the concerned grievance redressal committee within a week from Wednesday, said the Bench. (ANI)

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