PIL in Delhi HC seeks ex-gratia to families of Indian citizens who died abroad due to COVID-19

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By Sushil Batra

New Delhi [India], August 23 (ANI): A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in Delhi High Court seeking directions to the Union of India to extend ex-gratia assistance to the family members of Indian citizens who died abroad due to COVID-19.

The petitioner Pravasi of Legal Cell, a trust, also sought directions to the Indian missions abroad to collect and maintain proper data of those Indian citizens who died abroad due to COVID-19 and to also include the children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian/adoptive parents due to the pandemic abroad, but who are Indian citizens under the 'PM-CARES for Children scheme'.

The plea is scheduled to be heard by the division bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Tuesday.

The petitioner, through advocate MP Srivignesh, has made the National Disaster Management Authority, Union Ministery of External Affairs, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and National respondents in the matter.

The plea submitted that the Indian migrants "in destination countries" are the worst affected groups due to the pandemic as most of them have either lost their jobs or their salary has been reduced. "The fundamental rights that are guaranteed to all citizens are not extinguished when the person travels or lives abroad," the plea states.

It also says that expatriates who go to other countries for work purposes are also Indian citizens and they are also guaranteed fundamental rights under the Constitution of India.

"So, not extending the above schemes to the citizens who died abroad would clearly amount to creating two classes of people and treating equals unequally which is prohibited by the Constitution," the plea said.

According to the petitioner, the trust has recently also made representation regarding its grievance before the respondent authority, but no action has been taken on it, the plea said.

"The Supreme Court in its judgment in several PILs, while holding that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has a statutory obligation to frame guidelines for recommending minimum ex-gratia assistance to COVID victims, gave the NDMA six weeks to frame the guidelines for fixing the ex gratia meant for these families," the plea added. (ANI)

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