The Central Government has told the Supreme Court that any death resulting from Covid-19 infection should be certified as Covid death by doctors. If not done, then everyone responsible, including the doctor certifying the death certificate, will "be responsible for penal consequences."
The affidavit issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs further emphasised that all deaths with Covid-19 diagnosis are to be categorized as deaths due to Covid infection, irrespective of co-morbidities. Only a clear alternative cause of death, where Covid is an "incidental finding", can be an exception. For example, accidental trauma, poisoning, acute myocardial infarction etc.
Doctors to face action
The affidavit also mentioned that for recording Covid-19 deaths, a statutory mechanism is in place. It further said that if there is any breach of the guidelines, the people involved would be charged with a criminal offence as stipulated under Section 188 of the IPC. The affidavit mandated that the certifying doctors would be held responsible if the guidelines are not followed.
"It is submitted that 'Death Certification' is required to be done for recording deaths in accordance with the regulations prescribed by the Registrar General of India," the affidavit said, according to Times Now News.
It also added that the primary goal of a death certificate is to classify all deaths due to one particular medical condition and to eliminate any discrepancy. This will help estimate the burden of Covid deaths, the affidavit stated.
The affidavit also noted that broad guidelines for recording Covid-19 related deaths in India were prepared by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and the guidelines are in sync with the WHO Mortality Coding.
Concerns raised by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court had said that it was receiving complaints that Covid deaths were being written off as death due to lung and heart issues and families of victims had to run from pillar to post. Therefore, on May 24, SC called for a uniform policy and some guidelines for issuing death certificates for those affected with Covid-19.
The affidavit, filed by the Centre, came in response to the petitions filed by advocates Reepak Kansal and Gaurav Kumar Bansal. They cited Section 12(3) of the Disaster Management Act (DMA), which provides monetary compensation for victims' families during a notified disaster.