India’s supreme court has approved the government’s decision to pay 50,000 rupees ($674) as compensation for every death due to Covid-19.

The Supreme Court’s order followed a petition by the country’s lawyers seeking compensation under India’s disaster management laws.

India has officially recorded more than 447,000 Covid-19 deaths so far but experts believe that up to 10 times more people could have died in the pandemic.

On Monday, October 4, Justice MR Shah said the “next of kith and kin of the deceased person” shall be paid this compensation. This would be “over and above the amounts paid by the centre and state under various benevolent schemes”, he said.

The court added that the compensation should be paid within 30 days after a family submits an application.

The announcement comes after petitioners in June sought the court’s intervention in paying compensation to the families of Covid-19 victims.

They said since Covid-19 was “specially” notified as a disaster under India’s National Disaster Management Act, compensation should be paid to the victims.

The 2005 law was enacted for efficient management of disasters, including preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and compensation for lost lives, injuries and damaged properties.

The law says monetary assistance of 400,000 rupees should be paid to family of people who have lost their lives in a disaster.

According to the Indian government, the compensation will be paid “to the next of kin of the deceased due to Covid-19, subject to cause of death being certified as Covid-19” as per the guidelines. The funds for this compensation will be provided by the states.

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