The Supreme Court on Friday directed states and Union territories to appoint nodal officers for the payment of ex gratia compensation to families of those who died of the coronavirus, PTI reported.

The court directed that the nodal officer should co-ordinate with the state legal services authority for this purpose.

A bench comprising Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said that state governments should take all efforts to ensure that the compensation is paid within ten days of receiving the claim.

The court also said that the complete details of orphaned children must be provided to the state legal service authority within a week.

According to the Supreme Court, states have only provided statistics despite earlier orders to state details of deaths registered due to Covid-19 and the ex gratia payments made. The court said the objective was to see that legal services authority reach out to those who have not yet applied for ex- gratia.

The court also underlined that compensation applications should not be rejected on technical grounds. It said applicants should be allowed to rectify the errors since the goal of a welfare state is to provide solace and compensation to the victims, PTI reported.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court also pulled up the Maharashtra government for rejecting compensation applications submitted offline. “You are not doing charity,” the bench said. “Why are you sending people from pillar to post?”

Posting the matter for next hearing on March 7, the Supreme Court said in case of rejected applications, the state government must review them in a week and provide compensation.

It also told the Maharashtra government to provide details of the rejected claims along with the reasons to the member secretary of the state legal services authority. The court said in case of rejections on technical grounds, the applicants must be given a chance to fix the errors.

During a previous hearing on January 19, the Supreme Court had asked the chief secretaries of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh to appear before it virtually for failing to comply with the directions on paying compensation.

The Andhra Pradesh chief secretary, later in the day, assured the court that no eligible claimants will be deprived of compensation. The lawyer for the Bihar government had told the bench that the state will make all attempts to contact poor and illiterate persons regarding compensation.

The bench had said then that it was thinking of directing the State Legal Services Authorities to intervene in cases where the number of compensation claims are less than the number of deaths registered.

The Supreme Court has pulled up various state governments over the disbursal of the compensation.

In October, the Supreme Court had said states cannot refuse ex gratia solely on the grounds that Covid-19 is not mentioned as the cause of death.