The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that courts cannot presume that all deaths due to COVID-19 in the second wave of the pandemic were due to negligence as it refused to entertain a plea seeking compensation for the kin of the victims by treating it as medical negligence. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli asked the petitioner Deepak Raj Singh to approach the competent authorities with his suggestions.
The bench said, To assume that each death due to COVID-19 took place due to negligence is too much. The second wave had such an impact across the country that it cannot be presumed that all deaths happened due to negligence. Courts cannot have a presumption that all Covid deaths happened due to medical negligence, which your petition does.
The top court referred to a recent verdict of June 30, in which it had directed the National Disaster Management Authority to recommend within six weeks appropriate guidelines for ex-gratia assistance on account of loss of life to the family members of persons, who died due to COVID-19.
It said, in that verdict the court has taken a view with regard to humanity and not due to negligence. The government is yet to come out with the policy. If you have any suggestion with regard to implementation of that policy, you can approach the competent authority. At the outset, advocate Sriram Parakat, appearing for the petitioner, said that his petition is different as it brings into account an element of negligence and compensation for the deaths which have happened due to medical negligence.
The bench noted that since the petition was filed in the month of May, a lot of developments have taken place. We have taken suo motu cognizance on Covid preparedness and a National Task Force has been constituted by this court which is looking into several aspects, the bench said. The bench further told Parakat that, It was such a wave that it affected the entire country and the court cannot make a general presumption of medical negligence.
The top court, while disposing of the petition, asked the petitioner to withdraw his plea and amend it and if any suggestions are there, then the petitioner can approach the competent authority.