The Supreme Court, Thursday, questioned the states for the delay in awarding compensations to the families of Covid victims and the discrepancies in the death figures and claims.
Justice Sanjiv Khanna observed: “There is a serious discrepancy in the states. In many states, deaths are recorded and the number of applications doesn’t match. In others, the applications are much more and in some, they are very few. Does this mean that the people are not getting access to the online compensation forms? Should we have a paralegal volunteer system?”
So far, 10,27,72 claims have been approved while 49,116 claims have been rejected, officials said. Maharashtra’s lawyer told the court that the compensation claims are coming in every day and district-level officials are going to the Covid victims’ families to check and inform them about the solatium schemes. “Punjab has registered 16,567 Covid deaths. But why only 8,780 claims for compensation have been received,” the court asked.
Gujarat has 10,000 recorded deaths but the compensation claims amounted to 91,000 in number. “In other states, the number is very low. There must be a reason for this. Is there a lack of information? Are people unable to file claims,” the judge asked.
Punjab also recorded 6,000 deaths, but the claims received numbered 4,000. Justice MR Shah added: “Applications received cannot be less than the deaths registered. Those particulars are registered with the government. These are the people who have died.”
Rapping states over the discrepancy in the figures in Kerala and Rajasthan, Justice Khanna questioned: “Why is there such a gap between deaths and applications for compensation? This means there is a lack of information. It’s the poorest section which is not getting information. Those who can read and write and have social media will get information about compensation claims.”
Justice Shah also pulled up the Himachal Pradesh government. “Deaths recorded number 3,000, but applications received are only 650. What is this?”
The court didn’t spare Jharkhand either. “Look at Jharkhand! Deaths number 5,140. Applications only 132.”
Justice Khanna said that normally Aadhaar cards are connected to phone numbers. “Death certificates are issued with Aadhaar cards. If you have the phone numbers, why can’t SMSes be sent to the families about the compensation schemes,” he asked.