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  • The top Court directed the NDMA to recommend guidelines for ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life to the family members of the persons who died due to Covid-19, within 6 weeks.

New Delhi: The Centre has moved the Supreme Court seeking an additional four weeks to frame an ex-gratia payment scheme for the kin of those who succumbed to Covid-19.

On June 30, the top court had directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to frame appropriate guidelines within a period of six weeks.

In an application seeking an extension, the Centre said: "Applicant respectfully submits that exercise to frame guidelines for payment of ex-gratia payment to the victims of Covid-19 disaster under Section 12 (iii) of the DMA (Disaster Management Act) is in active consideration of the NDMA and going on."

It emphasised that this exercise, though at an advanced stage, requires a little more in-depth examination before it is finalised and implemented, as "any accelerated formulation, in the respectful submission of the applicant, may result into undesirable results".

"The applicant UOI is respectfully praying that this court, in the interest of justice, be pleased to extend the time for six weeks granted to the applicant to frame the guidelines of the judgment dated June 30, 2021, by another four weeks so as to enable the NDMA to come out with comprehensive and robust guidelines," added the application.

On June 30, the Supreme Court had said the Centre failed to perform its statutory duty cast under Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act to issue minimum standards of relief for families of those people who lost their lives to Covid-19. It directed the NDMA to recommend guidelines for ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life to the family members of the persons who died due to Covid-19, within 6 weeks.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and M.R. Shah said: "Guidelines for ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life due to Covid-19 pandemic, while recommending other guidelines for the minimum standards of relief, it can be said that the National Authority has failed to perform its statutory duty cast under Section 12.."

The bench had noted that if the statutory authority has failed to perform its statutory duty cast under the statute or constitutional duty, the court would be absolutely justified in issuing a writ of mandamus directing the authority to perform its statutory duty.

The top court order came on PILs filed by advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal seeking court's intervention for payment of Rs 4 lakh ex gratia amount to Covid victims' families.

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