New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to reconsider its decision to exclude from its guidelines compensation to persons who committed suicide after being diagnosed with Covid-19. A bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that it did not prima facie agree with the exclusion of such persons from the purview of compensation.
The Supreme Court was considering Monday the fresh guidelines issued by the Centre to simplify the process of issuance of death certificates, as per the directions in the judgment delivered June 30. The apex court asked the Solicitor General about the persons who committed suicide while they were suffering from coronavirus.
The bench said that exclusion of suicides where Covid-19 was an accompanying condition cannot be prima facie accepted under the guidelines. “You have to reconsider this,” the Supreme Court bench said.
Advocate Gaurav Bansal submitted that Centre’s decision to exclude suicide from Covid-19 deaths even if Ccovid-19 is an accompanying condition is irrational and arbitrary.
“Recently National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (herein after referred as NIMHANS) also issued a Research Study titled as ‘Suicide in the context of Covid-19 diagnosis in India: Insights and implications from online print media reports’. The petitioner has learnt from the said NIMHANS Research Study that Covid-19 related suicide rates are well above the National Average Suicide Rate and as such there is an urgent need to address the same,” Bansal said in an affidavit.
The Centre had earlier told the Supreme Court that the Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have come out with guidelines for issuing ‘official documents’ for Covid-related deaths.
In an affidavit filed before the top court, the Centre had also submitted that the Office of the Registrar General of India had September 3 issued a circular to provide a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to the next of kin of the deceased.
Deaths occurring due to poisoning, suicide, homicide and deaths due to accident, among others, will not be considered as Covid-19 deaths even if Covid-19 is an accompanying condition, the guidelines stated.