The Supreme Court on Monday asked all states and Union Territories to immediately compensate families of those who died due to the coronavirus disease, PTI reported.

A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said that applicants whose compensation claims have been rejected can approach the grievance redressal committee. The judges said the panel has to decide on the payment of ex-gratia compensation within four weeks.

In April, the Supreme Court fixed timelines to file compensation claims for Covid-19 deaths. For deaths that occurred before March 20 this year, the Supreme Court has set a deadline of 60 days for applicants to file compensation claims. For future deaths, the court has given three months to seek ex-gratia compensation.

The court added that in case of an “extreme hardship”, if the claimant was unable to submit a compensation application within the stipulated period, then he or she can reach out to the grievance redressal committee.

This year, the Supreme Court has also pulled up Bihar and Andhra Pradesh governments for not compensating the victims’ families on time.

SC directs Andhra Pradesh to return SDRF funds

At Monday’s hearing, Justices Shah and Nagarathna also heard a plea alleging that the Andhra Pradesh government had transferred the State Disaster Response Force funds to its accounts, PTI reported. The judges said the money should be sent to the State Disaster Response Force within two days.

Petitioner Palla Srinivasa Rao alleged that the state government was illegally using the funds for purposes other than what has been specified under Section 46(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

According to the provision, the National Disaster Response Fund shall be made available to the National Executive Committee so that they can be directed towards emergency response, relief and rehabilitation under the guidelines laid down by the Centre.

State Disaster Response Force is funded by the National Disaster Response Fund.