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At least ₹1 cr compensation for poll officers who died of COVID-19: Allahabad HC

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date
At least ₹1 cr compensation for poll officers who died of COVID-19: Allahabad HC

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday observed that the State must grant at least Rs. 1 crore as ex-gratia compensation to the families of polling officers who died due to COVID-19 while after the UP Panchayat polls.

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A two-judge bench comprising Justice Siddharth Verma and Justice Ajit Kumar made this observation while hearing a Public Interest Litigation on the spread of the pandemic in the state and conditions of quarantine centres.

On Friday, the UP Government had announced compensation of Rs. 30,00,000/- for the bereaved families.

Today, the High Court observed that the amount of compensation is very less and the families must be granted at least Rs. 1 crore as compensation for the loss of their loved ones.

To compensate the loss of life of the bread earner of the family and that too because of the deliberate act on the part of the State and State Election Commission to force them to perform duties in the absence of RTPCR support, the compensation must be at least to the tune of Rs.1,00,00,000/-” it observed.

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It further noted that the State Government as well as State Election Commission were well aware of the threat of pandemic and yet the teachers, investigators and Shiksha Mitras were forced to take risk. “It appears that neither the police nor, Election Commission did anything to save the people on election duty from getting infected by this deadly virus,” the High Court had said earlier.

We hope that the State Election Commission and Government will rethink over the amount of the compensation and come back to us on the next date fixed,” the Bench said.

On the death of 20 patients in a hospital in Meerut, the court observed that even if it is a case of suspected Covid death “we are of the view that all such cases of death should be taken as Covid deaths and no hospital can be permitted to hold these cases as non-Covid cases so as to reduce the number of Covid deaths in that hospital”.

The court directed the principal of Medical College, Meerut to come with exact reports of those 20 deaths — from Covid testing and SpO2 status — at the time of admission which was recorded by the hospital.

The principal informed the court that prior to their death, the 20 people were admitted to the hospital.

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While three of them had Covid positive reports, the rest had been given antigen tests which turned out to be negative.

According to him, the 20 deaths cannot be attributed to Covid as those were only suspected cases.

On complaints of people in the various districts regarding non-cooperation of government and private hospital staff and the district administration, the court directed that in every district of the State, a three-member Pandemic Public Grievance Committee be formed.

This committee shall come into existence within 48 hours of the passing of the order and necessary directives will be issued by the UP home chief secretary to all district magistrates.

“No details have been given regarding food supplied to the hospitals for Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 categories. The only fact stated is that ₹ 100 is allocated per patient in Level 1 hospital. It is a well-known fact that Covid patients need highly nutritious food that should include fruits and milk daily. We fail to understand how with ₹ 100 per capita budget the government is managing three meals in Level 1 hospital with 2,100 required calories,” it observed.

Advocate Amrendra Nath Tripathi had filed an intervention application on behalf of Sun Hospital, Lucknow with a plea that in response to the show-cause notice issued by the authorities, a reply was immediately submitted on May 5 before 5 pm but no receiving was given to them by the authorities.

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On May 1 and 2, there was no supply of oxygen cylinders to the hospital by the district administration and totally false statements were given by the district magistrate about the oxygen supply to the hospital, the advocate said.

He submitted that instead of considering the reply and verifying facts, the Lucknow district magistrate rushed to lodge an FIR against the hospital to show compliance with the court’s order.

The court directed the state to consider the same and get the necessary information from the district magistrate concerned and file an affidavit in reply to the intervention application by the next date fixed.

“In the meantime, however, until we finally decide the matter on the question of show cause notice and its reply and the action pursuant thereto taken against the hospital, no coercive measures shall be taken against the Sun Hospital and its staff pursuant to the FIR lodged,” the court said.

“Now coming to the issue of medical treatment given to late Justice VK Srivastava, the documents show that he was advised life-saving drug Remdesivir. However, the papers do not show whether he was actually administered Remdesiver on the first day and the subsequent two days,” it said.

The court said the documents show that until 7:20 pm of April 24 he had no complications and it was after this his situation started deteriorating.

“Prima facie, we are of the opinion that since the records are not a complete guide, in this case, the matter should be examined by a committee to be constituted by the government,” it observed while fixing May 17 as the next date of hearing.

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