Published On: January 25, 2022 at 12:30 IST
The Bombay High Court on January 24, observed that compensation is the right of the kin of COVID-19 victims. Therefore, it should not be denied merely on the grounds that the claim was filed physically and not via the web portal.
A Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Non-Government Organization (NGO) Prameya Welfare Foundation, representing 56 applicants which sough ex-gratia payment of ₹50,000 as they were unable to apply through the web portal specifically set up for processing such claims.
Advocate Sumedha Rao representing the Petitioners submitted that several slum dwellers had filed claim applications before Collector’s Office much before the Maharashtra Government came up with an online portal for payments. The Plea stated that on one hand families have lost their breadwinners while on the other hand, they have not received compensation which is their right to life. Moreover, there were several technical glitches in uploading forms to online portals.
Justice MS Karnik observed, “The web portal is for your convenience. Getting compensation is their right. They cannot be deprived just because they filed [applications] physically”.
The Bench pulled up the State government for insisting that claimants should file the application online. The Court further directed the government to permit individuals to submit documents physically or by post.
Chief Justice Datta observed that the State should not deny payment on mere technicalities and remarked, “The spirit of Supreme Court order is the administration must reach families of persons who have died of Covid-19. Keep this in mind, and why should you be so technical?”
Counsel for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) submitted that out of over 30,000 applications received, the civic authority had approved over 15,000. Further, Government Pleader Purnima Kantharia for the State submitted that through the online portal, the process was streamlined and the money was directly sent to the accounts of the beneficiaries.
The State sought time to take instructions on the matter from the concerned officials. The Bench, therefore, listed the matter for further hearing on January 27, 2022.