Gaurav Kumar Bansal vs Union of India - Supreme Court Case 2022

Gaurav Kumar Bansal vs Union of India - Supreme Court Case 2022

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
INTERLOCUTORY APPLICATION NO. 40111 OF 2022
(APPLICATION FOR DIRECTIONS)
IN
MISCELLANEOUS APPLICATION NO. 1805 OF 2021
IN
WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 539 OF 2021
Gaurav Kumar Bansal …Petitioner (s)
Versus
Union of India & Ors. …Respondent(s)/
 Applicant(s)
O R D E R
M.R. SHAH, J.
1. Present application is preferred by the Union of India- Ministry of
Home Affairs with the following prayers:-
“(a) Modify the order dated 30.06.2021 and other
subsequent orders passed by this Hon’ble Court in the
captioned matter permitting any central agency to
undertake a sample scrutiny to verify the claimed
documents processed by respective State Governments
for grant of ex gratia payment and take steps thereafter in
accordance with the law.
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(b) Modify the order dated 30.06.2021 and other
subsequent orders passed by this Hon’ble Court in the
captioned matter to the extent of declaring time limit of
four weeks, from the date of order passed by this Hon’ble
Court in the instant application, as an outer limit for the
existing eligible claimants to lodge their claims with the
authorities for seeking grant of ex gratia payment under
the orders of this Hon’ble Court dated 30.06.2021 and a
time of four weeks for claimants who might become
eligible in the future;”
2. Shri Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General has submitted that
after the order was passed by this Court dated 30.06.2021 and other
subsequent orders, the concerned States have received approximately
7,38,610 claims claiming ex-gratia compensation on the death of their
family members, who are entitled to the same pursuant to the order
passed by this Court dated 30.06.2021 and the subsequent orders. It is
submitted that since the COVID-19 pandemic in the country has now
subsided over the period of time since this Hon’ble Court passed the
order dated 30.06.2021 and the subsequent order dated 29.11.2021, by
now, all genuine claimants must have approached the authorities by
establishing their claims. It is submitted that therefore it is not desirable
to continue the process of submitting/receiving the claims without any
outer time limit. It is submitted that if no outer limit of time is fixed, in that
case, there is a greater possibility of making false claims. Therefore, it is
prayed to determine the deadline before which the claimants of persons
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who died due to COVID-19 can approach the authority making their
claims.
Shri Mehta, learned Solicitor General has suggested fixing the
deadline of four weeks to claim the ex gratia payment from the
authorities in case of death due to COVID-19.
2.1 Shri Mehta, learned Solicitor General has further submitted that
there are genuine apprehensions of submitting fake claims in some of
the States. Therefore, it is prayed that there should be an audit and/or
at-least random scrutiny of the claim applications filed in the respective
States. Shri Mehta, learned Solicitor General has submitted that
receiving the ex-gratia compensation by making a false claim or
submitting fake/false certificate is a very serious matter. It is submitted
that even as per Section 52 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005
(hereinafter referred to as “Act, 2005”), making a false claim for obtaining
any relief under the Act, 2005 is a punishable offence. It is brought to
our notice that as of now approximately 7,38,610 claims are received
and, therefore, it may be very difficult to verify each and every claim. It
is submitted that therefore let there be a random sample scrutiny.
2.1.1 Shri R. Basant, learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of
the State of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, Shri Rahul Chitnis, learned
counsel appearing on behalf of the State of Maharashtra have also
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supported Shri Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General and have
welcomed the sample scrutiny to find out the persons, who have made
false claims.
3. Having heard Shri Mehta, learned Solicitor General on the request
and the prayer made in the application and considering the fact that
more than nine months have passed after the first judgment and order
and thereafter four months have passed after the subsequent judgment
and order dated 29.11.2021 passed by this Court and by now
approximately 7,38,610 claims have been received by the concerned
States, Shri Mehta, learned Solicitor General is right in submitting that by
now all genuine claimants must have approached the authorities by
establishing their claims. He is also right in apprehending that if there is
no outer time limit fixed, then the process of receiving the claims would
go endless and, in that case, there is all possibility of submitting false
claims. However, at the same time, four weeks’ time suggested by Shri
Mehta, learned Solicitor General is too short. The family would need
some reasonable time to recover from the death and sorrow and filing
the claim. Therefore, we deem it appropriate to fix the outer limit of sixty
days from today to file the claims for compensation in case the death
occurred due to COVID-19 prior to 20.03.2022. For future deaths, ninety
days’ time is provided from the date of death due to COVID-19 to file the
claim for compensation. The earlier order to process the claims and to
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make the actual payment of compensation within a period of thirty days
from the date of receipt of claim is ordered to be continued.
4. However it is clarified that in case of extreme hardship any
claimant could not make an application within the time prescribed, it will
be open for the claimant to approach the Grievance Redressal
Committee and make the claim through Grievance Redressal Committee
which shall be considered by the Grievance Redressal Committee on
case to case basis and if it is found by the Grievance Redressal
Committee that a particular claimant could not make the claim within the
stipulated time which was beyond their control his/her case may be
considered on merits.
5. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Home Affairs
– Union of India and all the concerned States are directed to give wide
publicity to the present order through print and electronic media so that
the claimants can know the time limit fixed by this Court for making
claims. Such advertisement shall be published fortnightly for a period of
six weeks from today.
6. Now, so far as the allegation of submitting fake claims on
submitting false certificates or obtaining the compensation on submitting
the false claim is concerned, it is required to be noted that making a
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false claim and obtaining any relief on that basis is a punishable offence
under Section 52 of the Act, 2005, which reads as under:-
“52. Punishment for false claim.—Whoever knowingly
makes a claim which he knows or has reason to believe
to be false for obtaining any relief, assistance, repair,
reconstruction or other benefits consequent to disaster
from any officer of the Central Government, the State
Government, the National Authority, the State Authority or
the District Authority, shall, on conviction be punishable
with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two
years, and also with fine.”
6.1 Nobody can be permitted to avail the ex-gratia compensation by
making a false claim and/or submitting the false certificate. A claimant is
entitled to the ex-gratia of Rs.50,000/- being a kin/family member of
those, who died due to COVID-19. Earlier, this Court passed the order
directing the Union of India/NDMA/concerned States to pay ex-gratia
amount keeping in mind the humanity and keeping in mind the sufferings
of the family members who lost one of their family members due to
COVID-19. Therefore, nobody can be permitted to misuse the same and
it is also against morality and is unethical, which can never be accepted.
Therefore, to start with a random scrutiny of the 5% of the claim
applications filed in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and
Maharashtra shall be made at the first instance. We permit the
NDMA/Union of India, through Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to
carry out the random scrutiny of 5% of the claim applications by the
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States of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and Maharashtra at the first
instance. The concerned States are directed to assist in carrying out the
scrutiny of the claim applications as ordered above and submit all the
necessary particulars of the respective claims that have been
attended/processed to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, who
shall carry out the scrutiny within a period of three months from today
and submit the report before this Court. If it is found that anybody has
made a fake claim, the same shall be considered under Section 52 of
the Act, 2005 and liable to be punished accordingly.
Present application is accordingly disposed of in terms of the
above directions.
………………………………….J.
 [M.R. SHAH]
NEW DELHI; ………………………………….J.
MARCH 24, 2022. [B.V. NAGARATHNA]
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