CHENNAI : The Madras High Court directed the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments to expedite the distribution of Covid-19 relief fund to the families of the victims on Tuesday. The court also asked the State government to draft guidelines for the process in a week.
“A minimum of Rs 50,000 must be paid quickly to the victim’s next of kin or legal heirs,” ordered Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu. The judges said the amount had to be paid as ex-gratia out of the State Disaster Response Fund and the directions are binding. It added the government could pay above the minimum amount to affected families.
The State, however, must inform the court whether and to what extent it wanted to make a payment over Rs 50,000. To enable the quick handling of applications for funds, the court asked the Tamil Nadu government to put in place a mechanism to deal with grievances in terms of the Supreme Court order.
The orders were issued on a batch of petitions, including the one filed by R Vijayagopal. Earlier, Advocate General R Shanmugasundaram had informed the court that 36,220 people had died of Covid-19 so far and the government would provide their families with Rs 50,000 as per the Supreme Court orders. The matter was posted to November 19.