The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the city government to place before the new group of ministers (GoM) its order relating to payment of Rs 1 crore compensation to the family of a police constable who died due to Covid-19 while performing his duty.
The Delhi government informed the court that the GoM is being re-constituted following changes in the cabinet and sought some time to place its decision on the issue of compensation.
The high court was hearing a petition by a woman whose husband passed away on May 5, 2020 when she was expecting a child. The deceased, a young Delhi Police constable, was posted at Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital to ensure adherence to Covid-induced lockdown measures.
In February, the high court had said the Delhi government's decision to keep on hold the family’s case for Rs 1 crore compensation was “not tenable”. On Wednesday, Justice Prathiba M Singh said if the authorities do not take a decision, the court will have to pass an order regarding the compensation.
“The order of February 23 and today’s order be placed before the GoM so that a decision is taken within one month,” the court said. Petitioner’s counsel said the authorities have been delaying the matter for no reason. To this, the judge said the GoM will have to be re-constituted as they cannot keep all the matter pending for long.
The high court listed the matter for further hearing on May 8 while making it clear that no further time will be granted considering the background of the case. On March 2, Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and jailed minister Satyendar Jain tendered their resignations which were accepted by the President.
In their place, two new ministers have been inducted in the cabinet -- Atishi Marlena and Saurabh Bharadwaj. In December 2022, the high court had asked the authorities to take a decision on payment of Rs 1 crore compensation to the family of the constable who died due to Covid-19 and said the city government ought not to resile from the clear announcement made for ex-gratia payment.
The high court had earlier said there was a “clear communication” by the authorities as well as press clippings which left no doubt that an ex-gratia amount of Rs 1 crore was announced for the deceased's family by the Delhi government.
The petitioner has said the orders issued by the Delhi government during the pandemic required Delhi Police personnel to be posted for Covid-19 duty across the city and therefore it cannot be argued by the respondents that the deceased was not on Covid-19 duty.
In the petition, the deceased constable’s wife has submitted that she ran from pillar to post to secure the compensation promised by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a tweet on May 7, 2020 after the death of her husband who was the family's sole breadwinner.
The plea referred to Kejriwal’s tweet stating, “Amitji (the constable) did not care for his life and kept serving Delhi people. He got infected with corona and passed away. I pay homage to him on behalf of all the Delhiites. His family shall be given an ex-gratia of Rs 1 crore.”
The woman has said her husband was the first person from the police force to succumb to Covid-19 and that she was pregnant at the time of his death and has two children to look after.