The Allahabad High Court has admitted a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking monetary compensation or ex-gratia payment for those who have died owing to the COVID-19 pandemic (Dr. Sandeep Pandey v. Union of India).
A Division Bench of Justices Ritu Raj Awasthi and Manish Mathur issued notice in the matter on Monday.
During the hearing, counsel for the petitioner informed the Court that the Supreme Court, while hearing its suo motu COVID-19 case, had already asked the Central government to consider paying compensation to the victims of the COVID-19 crisis.
While opposing the PIL, counsel for the State submitted that Supreme Court has already taken up this issue and that the Allahabad High Court is also hearing a suo motu matter is this regard. Hence, the PIL should be dismissed.
The Court, however, admitted the PIL and has listed the same after the summer vacation. The order reads,
“List this case in the month of July, 2021. Any decision in this regard is taken by the Apex Court or by this Court at Allahabad, that may be brought on record.”
The petition has been moved by philanthropist Dr Sandeep Pandey, through Advocate Rajat Rajan Singh. The plea states that the Union government had in 2020 issued a notification to provide compensation to such victims who lost their lives during the pandemic.
It has been contended that now, the same notification has been modified and the clause regarding compensation has been removed.
“Such an action by the Government of India is blatant violation of the basic human right and fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution,” reads the petition.
Further, it was submitted that under Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act 2005, the government has a statutory duty to grant compensation or assistance to persons who died due to the disaster.
It was pointed out by the petitioner that till date, there is not a ‘constant’ or National Plan which lays down the standards of relief to citizens affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following reliefs have been sought by the petitioner:
- To quash the modified government notification No. 33-4/2020-NDM-1 dated March 14, 2020, insofar as same deletes the provision for ex-gratia payment to victims of COVID-19.
- To direct the State and Central government to formulate a scheme for payment of compensation to such victims who have died due to COVID-19.
- To direct the National Disaster Authority to review and re-formulate the National Plan for Disaster Management.
- To direct the State Disaster Authority to re-view and re-formulate the Uttar Pradesh Plan for Disaster Management.
- To direct the government of Uttar Pradesh and all testing labs to upload the report of RT-PCR on the ICMR portal within twenty-four hours.