VIJAYAWADA: The Supreme Court has pulled up the Andhra Pradesh government for the delay in distribution of compensation to the kin of those who died due to Covid19 despite previous court orders. The court also ordered immediate presence of chief secretary Sameer Sharma to explain why this was not done so far.
Sharma appeared before the court in virtual mode in the afternoon and apologised for the delay in the distribution of money to the affected families.
A bench comprising Justices MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna while hearing a case on Wednesday noted that AP flouted the court’s orders to pay Covid relief to the families of the victims. The court sought an immediate response from the CS in virtual mode.
AP’s counsel Mahfooz Nazki profusely apologised to the bench and informed it that the court’s displeasure was conveyed to the state government. He pleaded with the bench to grant some time to comply with its order and not to issue a show cause notice to the CS.
The bench observed, "We will pass an order to send him to jail if he fails to be present virtually at 2pm. We noted that there was no compliance with our earlier orders and no show cause would be issued now. Our directions are taken lightly and the government is not above law."
"There is no justification for not making the payment to the claimants whose applications have been received and found in order. This is tantamount to disobedience of our earlier order. The chief secretary is liable for action as a Contempt of Court is involved. Let him explain matters to us."
The chief secretary, in a huff, showed up before the bench at 2pm. AP’s counsel R Basant said 41,292 applications were received and of them, 34,819 were eligible and of them, 23,835 were paid Covid relief. He said there was some "confusion" in the calculation of claimants for Covid relief eligible and identifying the ineligible.
Chief secretary Sharma said a sum of 23,835 was paid and 10,984 was to be paid shortly. Out of them, 5,141 families would be paid soon. He expressed apologies to the bench and assured he would take personal responsibility to pay Covid relief to all eligible families.
He said the applications received by the government were having some "inadequacies" and hence the delay. He promised to recheck 41,000 applications with an appellate committee as the court has asked the state not to reject any claim based on technical grounds.
The bench passed an order and noted that AP had confirmed that it received 41,492 claims for Covid relief and of them, 34,819 were found to be eligible, while nearly 6,400 claims were rejected. Out of the eligible claimants, 23,835 received compensation while 10,984 were yet to be paid. Of these, 5,141 claims would be cleared within three days.