Centre, Safdarjung Hospital Asked to Release Rs 50L to Wife of Security Guard Who Died During COVID Pandemic

The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre and Safdarjung Hospital to release Rs 50 lakh to the wife of a security guard deployed at the hospital, who died on duty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The high court said the central government cannot take such a narrow approach that only such persons who were posted in the COVID-19 ward or centre will be covered by the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19”.

Justice Subramonium Prasad said during the pandemic, people were crowding hospitals to get themselves screened and at this juncture, it was these security guards, paramedical staff, who not only ensured the safety of hospitals but were also acting as guides by directing the patients to approach the correct centre.

“It, therefore, cannot be said that the security guards who were posted at various places were not in direct contact of COVID-19 patients. It is well known that COVID-19 virus spread through air and any patient who was coming to the hospital could have been infected by the virus, whether he/ she was symptomatic or not. The patients got in touch with many service providers, be it security guards, nurses, paramedical staff, who might or might not have been posted in the COVID-19 ward,” the high court said.

The court refused to accept the contention of the Centre that petitioner Sangeeta Wahi’s husband Dilip Kumar, who died in June 2020, was not deployed for the care of COVID-19 patients and he was not in direct contact with such patients so he would not be covered under the scheme.

“The narrow and pedantic stand taken by the Central Government cannot be accepted and the petitioner is entitled to the benefit of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19′,” the high court said.

“The scheme was actually brought out as a measure to benefit the family members of persons who became martyrs in the line of duty while protecting thousands of persons affected by COVID-19 pandemic. Taking such a narrow view actually goes against the spirit of the scheme which was meant to provide immediate relief to persons who were tackling the situation and were protecting the lives of thousands of patients,” it said.

The court was deciding the plea by the woman who filed the petition seeking benefits of the insurance package announced by the central government and also the scheme announced by the Delhi government’s Department of Health and Family Welfare for grant of ex-gratia compensation of Rs 1 crore to the families of the employees who died of coronavirus while on COVID-19 duty.

The Delhi government submitted before the court that the scheme would apply only to the families of employees who were employed by the state government and since the guard was employed on contractual basis by the Central government, his case would not be covered.

Noting that there was a shift in the Delhi Government’s stand which has restricted the scope of its scheme to only those who were deployed by the state government, the court said since the deceased was not employed by the Delhi Government, it was not inclined to extend the benefit by passing a writ.

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The court, however, noted that a July 2020 circular of Delhi government stated that the administrative departments of deceased persons can send their names for payment of an ex-gratia of amount of Rs 1 crore, posthumously, along with the requisite documents.

“Medical Superintendent, Safdarjung Hospital, is, therefore, directed to send the documents of the late husband of the petitioner to the Delhi government and upon receipt of these documents, the Delhi government is directed to examine the case of the late husband of the petitioner sympathetically keeping in mind the fact that he has lost his life in the line of duty,” the high court said.

It directed the Centre, Director General of Health Services and medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital to release the amount of Rs 50 lakh in favour of the petitioner woman within eight weeks.

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