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Judiciary

Delhi High Court directs Centre to release Rs 50 lakh compensation to security guard's family for death due to Covid-19 [Read Judgment]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      23 October, 2023 03:06 PM      0 Comments
Delhi High Court directs Centre to release Rs 50 lakh compensation to security guard s family for death due to Covid 19 Read Judgment

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has directed the Central Government to release a sum of Rs 50 lakh to the wife of a security guard who died of Covid-19 after contracting the disease during his duty at Safdarjung Hospital here.

Justice Subramonium Prasad also directed the Delhi government to consider paying Rs one crore compensation to Sangeeta Wahi, wife of the deceased as he had "lost his life in line of duty".

It rejected a "narrow approach" adopted by the Central Government that only such persons who were posted in the Covid-19 ward or centre only will be covered by the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19".

Wahi, represented by advocates Rubinder Ghumman and Anu Mehta, filed a writ petition claiming the benefit of an insurance package announced by the Central Government under the "Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19".

She also claimed the benefits of the Scheme announced by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of NCT for grant of ex-gratia compensation of Rs one crore to the families of the employees who died of Covid-19 on June 14, 2020 while on duty during the pandemic. She said her husband - late Dilip Kumar, was working as a Security Guard in the Safdarjung Hospital wherein he was deployed at the Hospital's OPD Building patient registration counter.

The Central Government said that the late husband of the petitioner herein was not deployed for the care of Covid-19 patients and, therefore, he would not be entitled to the scheme. It also said he was employee of the security agency. The centre also said he was not deployed in direct Covid-19 duty.

The State Government said that the Scheme announced by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of NCT for grant of ex-gratia compensation of Rs one crore will apply only to the families of those employees who died of Covid-19 while on Covid-19 duty and were deployed by it.

The court, however, said the Central Government cannot take such a narrow approach that only such persons who were posted in the Covid-19 ward or centre only will be covered by the scheme.

The court said the Scheme was actually brought out as a measure to benefit the family members of persons who became martyrs in the line of duty while protecting thousands of persons affected by Covid-19 Pandemic.

"Taking such a narrow view actually goes against the spirit of the Scheme which was meant to provide immediate relief to persons who were tackling the situation and were protecting the lives of thousands of patients. This Court can take judicial notice of the fact that any person having mildest of the symptoms of Covid-19 was getting himself/herself tested. Poor people who could not afford private testing centres were rushing to the Government hospitals. A normal person would never know that there is a special Covid-19 ward and his normal reaction would be to approach either the OPD desk or the casualty of the hospital to meet the Doctor," the bench said.

"At that point of time, to streamline the queue, the services of the security guards were availed. The security guards were also directing the people to the Departments where the patients have to approach in order to get themselves treated. It, therefore, cannot be said that the late husband of the petitioner herein, who died of Covid-19 which he may have contracted in the Hospital, was not in direct contact with the Covid-19 patients," the bench added.

The bench said the "narrow and pedantic" stand taken by the Central Government cannot be accepted.

Covid-19 Pandemic struck the country in March, 2020. Lakhs of persons lost their lives in the Pandemic. Police officials, healthcare workers, Doctors, Paramedics, etc were braving the Pandemic and were in the line of duty to provide assistance to persons who fell victims to the life taking virus.

Considering the Delhi government's circular of July 27, 2020, the HC directed the Safdarjung Hospital's administration to send the name of the deceased along with requisite documents for payment of ex gratia sum of Rs one crore.

[Read Judgment]

 



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