Supreme Court Orders India to Compensate Families of Covid Dead

A funeral pyre burns amid mass cremations of Covid-19 fatalities in Garh, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court Orders India to Compensate Families of Covid Dead

India’s Supreme Court ruled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is bound by law to compensate the families of those who died in one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

The Modi-headed National Disaster Management Authority now has six weeks to frame guidelines for payouts to next of kin. A panel headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan on Wednesday rejected the government’s stand that monetary compensation is optional under disaster-management laws and said “the national authority has failed to perform its statutory duty.”

The verdict adds to mounting criticism of Modi’s handling of the pandemic, with India’s death toll on course to exceed 400,000 this week. The compensation also risks pressuring already worsening public finances, as rising infections forced states to lock down and dented demand.

The court said the disaster management body will decide on the amount of money after considering the government’s priorities, given the fiscal and economic conditions wrought by the pandemic.

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