The Supreme Court of India Monday approved a government plan to compensate families of deceased COVID-19 victims.
The program provides 50,000 rupees per family death. 50,000 rupees coverts to almost $670 for the nearly 450,000 deaths—representing a substantial cost for the Indian government. However, the number of deaths will increase further. The pandemic continues to cause deaths and researchers believe that India has massively underestimated the total number of COVID-19 deaths.
The ruling stems out of the Disaster Management Act of 2005. The act establishes multiple government agencies which deal with damage and policy responses. Over the past few months, the government agency and the courts have been negotiating on payment amounts. Critics argue that the Disaster Management Act should actually provide 400,000 rupees to families who lose a relative. However, the government was concerned about overall costs and settled on the 50,000 rupees.
Families must apply through the program, providing a death certificate mentioning the cause of death. Administrative difficulties, along with deaths outside of hospitals, means many families do not possess a death certificate with a cause of death. As a result, the court is attempting to persuade the government to work with the families to establish eligibility.
The payments attempt to ward off economic dislocation in the face of the pandemic. Families face loss of primary income earners, employment fluctuation, as well as the effects of government shutdowns to stop the spread of the pandemic. More disputes will likely arrive as the Indian Supreme Court continues to provide legal guidance to the government and its citizens.