The central government on Thursday, September 23, informed the Supreme Court that if a person dies by suicide within 30 days of testing positive for coronavirus, it will be considered as COVID death. Therefore, it will entitle their next of kin to get ₹50,000 as ex-gratia as per health ministry guidelines.
Earlier, the government had submitted guidelines to the Top Court where it had excluded deaths due to poisoning, suicide, accidents, homicide, etc. from the COVID-19 category, even if the virus infection is an accompanying condition. Responding to this, the court had asked the centre to reconsider this decision.
According to a study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 95 per cent of deaths occur within 25 days of testing positive for the virus.
The Apex Court conveyed its happiness to the government for fixing compensation to the family of those who succumbed to the disease.
"Today we are delighted. There will be some comfort to the people who have suffered during the pandemic. The way government is performing, we're happy that something is being done to wipe out the tears of these people," Justice M R Shah said, sharing a bench with Justice A S Bopanna, as reported by The Indian Express.
Ex-gratia Of Rs 50,0000
Solicitor General (SG)Tushar Mehta had apprised the court that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had recommended ex-gratia of ₹50,0000 to the next of kin of those who died due to the virus. He also took the court through the guidelines brought out by the Authority to enable the payment.
The NDMA had come up with guidelines on September 11, after the Supreme Court had asked it to consider fixing ex-gratia for the victims. In addition, it had asked the government to frame simplified guidelines for the issue of official documents that would help the kins of COVID victims.
Later, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) came out with guidelines stating that patients who are tested through RT-PCR/Molecular Test/Rapid Antigen Test, or people who have been clinically determined in hospital or in-patient facility while being admitted, will be counted as COVID death.
It was also decided that deaths occurring within 30 days of testing positive, even outside the hospital, will be treated as a COVID-19 death.
The Centre said that any death certificate issued before new guidelines come into effect shall be treated as a valid document for considering any death as "death due to COVID-19, India Today reported.
The SG told the court that death certificates issued before the new order could be rectified by raising a plea before the district-level committee to be set up in the states. The state governments have to set up grievance redressal committees within 30 days.