The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the city government to decide within two months whether it will grant ex-gratia to the 49-year-old widow of an assistant traffic inspector died of COVID-19 after contracting the disease while performing his duties during the second wave of the pandemic. The petitioner submitted as per government policy, if any government employee deployed for COVID-19 duty dies due to the viral disease, the grieving family is entitled to a compensation of Rs 1 crore, but authorities have not entertained her request for it. “Bearing in mind the limited nature of the issues that arise, the court finds no justification to retain the petition on its board at this stage and ends of justice would warrant the first respondent (Delhi government) to be called upon to examine the representation of the petitioner and take an appropriate decision on the same with expedition and preferably within a period of two months from today,” said Justice Yashwant Varma.
The court disposed of the petition but clarified the contentions of the parties will be kept open. The Delhi government counsel said the Delhi Transport Corporation had earlier reverted to the petitioner on the issue saying they have not received a “certificate of death by COVID-19”.
The court nonetheless asked the authority concerned under the city government to decide the representation as DTC may be the recommending body.
“Let them (the authority concerned) decide it,” the court said. The petitioner was represented by advocates Shiv Dutt Bakshi and Kushika Chachra. In her plea, the petitioner said she has the right to claim the compensation as her deceased husband contracted COVID-19 while performing his government duties and passed away on May 2, 2021 leaving behind a grieving family of his wife and two children. The plea said pursuant to the government policy, 31 corona warriors were given an ex-gratia of Rs 1 crore each which includes healthcare professionals, teachers, civil defence, and DTC personnel.
“The petitioner’s husband was continuously attending his duty from 19.04.2021 to 27.04.2021 and by that time he had already contracted this deadly coronavirus. On 28.04.2021, the Petitioner became really unwell and was suffering from high fever. He was then taken to Respondent no.3 (the doctor) for examination and further treatment, whereby he was suspected of contracting covid and he was advised immediate hospitalization,” the petition said. The court was told the petitioner’s husband was unable to find a proper bed with ventilator and other necessary facilities, and was taken to Sujanpur, Aligarh, where he died.