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India agrees to pay $300 million to families of COVID-19 victims

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India has approved a plan to pay families of COVID-19 victims more than $300 million in compensation.

The country’s top court has approved a government plan to pay $674 to the families of each victim, according to a report by CNN.

The country has clocked more than 448,997 official deaths as of Monday, as reported by local media, with the number set to increase in the coming months. 

The compensation, which is touted to be a global first, will be paid via the country’s Disaster Management Act 2005 and will be paid retroactively. The court has also warned the government not to deny the payments to families even if the cause of death is not listed as COVID-19 on a person’s death certificate.

A two-judge bench of the top Indian court has directed the government to pay the amount within 30 days of the application.

“Next of kin of the deceased shall be paid an amount of Rs 50,000 and it will be over and above the amounts paid by centre and state under various benevolent schemes,” a bench of Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

The court also mandated that undetermined COVID-19 cases, where the person dies in their home or a hospital, will also be treated as a COVID-19 death if there’s inconclusive proof that the cause of death was coronavirus related.  

To receive the compensation, families of victims will need to fill out a form and submit death certificates. There will be a redressal committee for families of those denied compensation as well who will look over the case and examine the evidence.

The Supreme Court’s decision came after advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal, petitioned for a compensation of about $5,392 for every COVID-19 victim. 

According to the petitioners, as the country’s government had officially declared the coronavirus pandemic as a disaster under the Disaster Management Act of 2005, the federal government was legally bound to provide compensation to the families of the victims. 

India is the second-worst affected country by the COVID-19 pandemic after the U.S., with more than 33.8 million cases and more than 400,000 deaths. However, activists believe that the actual death toll is far higher than reported.

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