‘Government resources have limits’: Centre on Rs 4 lakh compensation plea for Covid victims

This will affect pandemic response on other aspects and might end up doing more damage than good, it said in an affidavit.

Granting Rs 4 lakh as compensation to kin of those who died of Covid-19 would not be feasible as “resources of governments have limits” and that the entire State Disaster Relief Fund would be depleted, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told the Supreme Court.

This will affect pandemic response on other aspects and might end up doing more damage than good, it said in an affidavit.

“Utilisation of scarce resources for giving ex-gratia, may have unfortunate consequences of affecting the pandemic response and health expenditure in other aspects and hence cause more damage than good,” the affidavit read.

The ministry was responding to a plea seeking directions to the Central and state governments to provide compensation to the family members of those who have succumbed to Covid-19 or post Covid complications, including mucormycosis.

The petition by advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal had referred to Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act (DMA) 2005, which said that national authority shall recommend guidelines for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by disaster, which shall include ex-gratia assistance.

The Central Government said that an ex-gratia of Rs. 4 lakhs is beyond the fiscal affordability of the State Governments. “Already the finances of State Governments and the Central Government are under severe strain, due to the reduction in tax revenues and increase in health expenses on account of the pandemic,” the MHA said.

Regarding DMA Section 12, the reply said that it is the “National Authority” which is empowered to recommend guidelines for the minimum standards of relief, including ex-gratia assistance, and thus it is a “function entrusted to the authority by the law passed by the Parliament.”

The Centre said the term “ex-gratia” itself means that the amount is not based on legal entitlement.

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