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Bombay HC Rejects Widow's Petition for Covid-19 Compensation, Emphasizes Careful Consideration Over Reward

Bombay HC Rejects Widow's Petition for Covid-19 Compensation, Emphasizes Careful Consideration Over Reward

In its decision, the Bombay High Court emphasized that compensation for COVID-19-related deaths is not to be regarded as a reward. The court underscored the necessity of handling such matters with the utmost care and diligence, as evidenced by its rejection of the petition filed by the widow of a hand pump assistant.

Justices Ravindra Ghuge and RM Joshi of the division bench stated that the Maharashtra government's decision to reject the woman's plea seeking Rs 50 lakh in compensation was deemed neither 'perverse' nor 'wrong.'

The order was issued in response to a petition filed by Kanchan Hamshette from Nanded district, who had requested an ex-gratia payment of Rs 50 lakh from the government. The petitioner asserted that her husband, who was employed by the government, succumbed to COVID-19 after contracting the virus.

During the pandemic, the state government implemented a comprehensive personal accident cover worth Rs 50 lakh for employees engaged in essential duties such as surveying, tracing, testing, prevention, treatment, and relief activities. In her petition, Hamshette stated that her husband, who passed away in April 2021, was involved in work categorized as essential services under this scheme.

Hamshete appealed to the High Court to annul the state government's decision to dismiss her application in November 2023. In its ruling, stressed the necessity of handling such cases with sensitivity and care. It emphasized the importance of conducting thorough investigations into such matters. However, the court also highlighted that cases ineligible for the payment of Rs 50 lakh as ex-gratia compensation cannot be treated as such.

The court cautioned that mishandling such cases could result in the disbursement of Rs 50 lakh of taxpayers' money to individuals ineligible for such compensation. It acknowledged the government's argument that the petitioner's husband, identified as a hand pump assistant, had not been officially appointed for Covid-19 duty by a competent authority.

 

 

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