The Madras High Court on Friday observed that there were grievances all over the country that deaths due to the coronavirus disease may not have been appropriately recorded, Live Law reported.

A bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said that accurate reporting of the toll would help in studies being undertaken to deal with a pandemic of this scale in future. The immediate concern, the judges said, was that families of those who died cannot get compensation from state and central government unless cause of death is attributed to Covid-19.

“Without attempting to go into the specialised domain of doctors and persons trained in such regard, it is elementary that the major ailment suffered by a person may result ultimately in the heart being attacked and the death due to such attack,” the court said. “However, the cause of the death in such a case may not be appropriately attributed to just a heart attack, but the underlying reason for the heart being attacked ought to be regarded as the real cause. So has it to be done in case of deaths triggered off by Covid-19, even if the person suffered from co-morbidities.”

The judges also raised concerns about the situation in Tamil Nadu. “As far as this state is concerned, there are reports in some quarters that unless a positive test report was issued in respect of the patient, the subsequent death would not be recorded as a Covid death,” the court said.

The bench said it was necessary to conduct an appropriate study, by a specialised team if necessary, on the declaration of deaths due to the infection. “It would also be fit and proper to require death certificates already issued to be revised,” the judges suggested.

The court sought responses from the state and central government and posted the matter for hearing on June 28.

On April 29, Banerjee and Ramamoorthy had wondered what the Narendra Modi-led central government has been doing for the last 14 months as citizens scrambled to source oxygen, medicine and hospital beds for patients during the devastating second wave of the pandemic. The judges added that there cannot be ad-hocism in dealing with the health crisis.

On April 26, the same bench of judges had said that the Election Commission should be booked on charges of murder for allowing poll rallies to continue despite the country struggling to cope with the sheer number of Covid cases and deaths.