The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the city government to release within four weeks the ex-gratia compensation of Rs 1 crore to the family of a police constable who died in 2020 after contracting COVID-19 while performing his duties.
Justice Prathiba M Singh observed that under an order passed by the Delhi government on November 3, compensation was granted to the wife and father of the deceased constable Amit Kumar.
“The amount in terms of the order shall be released in four weeks,” the court ordered.
In the order, the government approved the release of Rs 60 lakh and Rs 40 lakh to the wife and father of the deceased, respectively, in terms of a cabinet decision dated May 13, 2020.
Advocate Arun Panwar, appearing for the Delhi government, said the authorities would comply with the direction.
The high court was hearing a petition by Kumar’s wife who said her husband passed away on May 5, 2020 when she was expecting a child. Kumar, a young Delhi Police constable, was posted at Deep Chand Bandhu Hospital to ensure adherence to COVID-19 lockdown measures.
In December 2022, the high court had asked authorities to take a decision on payment of Rs 1 crore compensation to the family of the constable and said the city government ought not to resile from the clear announcement made for ex-gratia payment.
The high court, while dealing with the petition by the wife of the deceased, 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 family by the Delhi government.
The petitioner had 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 wife 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 us Delhi people. He got infected with corona and passed away. I pay homage to him on behalf of all the Delhites. His family shall be given an ex-gratia of Rs 1 crore.”
The woman said her husband was the first person from the police force to succumb to COVID-19 and she has two children to look after.