Regardless of any co-morbidities, central government informed the Supreme Court that all COVID-19 diagnosed deaths are to be classified as COVID-19 deaths in case of Gaurav Kumar Bansal v. Union of India.
“All deaths with a diagnosis of COVID-19, irrespective of co-morbidities, are to be classified as deaths due to COVID-19. The only exception could be where there is a clear alternative cause of death, that cannot be attributed to COVID-19 (e.g. accidental trauma, poisoning, acute myocardial infarction, etc), where COVID-19 is an incidental finding,” in the affidavit submitted by the MHA office.
The MHA reacted in response to a request to the Central and States to compensate the family members who have succumbed in the side-effects, including the mucormycotic, with a compensation for ex gratia Rs. 4 lakh, or post-COVID 19 diseases.
Referring to Article 12 of the Disaster Management Act 2005 in the petition of advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal, the National Authority recommends recommendations for minimum relief criteria to assign for disaster affected people including ex gratia aid.
“Is there a uniform policy on death certificates? As there are many situations where reason for death is not given as COVID. States say they follow ICMR guidelines, produce the guidelines about the death certificates. If benefit is to be given to COVID deaths, then reasons like lung problem etc is given (on the death certificates)…So people have to go from one office to another. What is the uniform policy in this regard,” The Court questioned the central government during previous session.
The MHA said in its statement that the issue of death certificates, as well as the registration of birth and death, is done in accordance with the requirements of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969. (RBD Act). According to Section 10 of the RBD Act, the medical doctor who is attending to the dead at the time of terminal illness should supply the information relating to cause of death. The cause of death certificate is delivered to the Registrar together with a death report form on which, at the time of death registration, the Registrar creates the appropriate records of death.
However, under Section 17 of the RBD Act, ‘no extract relating to any death, issued to any person, shall disclose the particulars regarding the cause of death as entered in the register’.
As a result, the Registrar cannot reveal the reason of death to anybody.
“Hence, the extract/certificate of death does not include any information related to the cause of death of an individual, it is therefore most respectfully stated that the death certificate does not show the cause of the death of any individual,” the MHA submitted
The MHA further stated in the affidavit that an ex gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakh to the kin of each COVID-19 deceased would be difficult because “government resources have limits” and that the whole amount of the State Disaster Relief Fund would be used for such payments if such payments were made.