“Cannot issue mandamus directing all COVID victims to be compensated”- Madras HC2 min read


On 8th June 2021 in the Madras High court, a bench consisting of Chief justice Sanjeeb Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy presided over a writ of mandamus under article 226 of the Indian constitution. The writ was filed asking and pleading for compensation for the families of people who have succumbed due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, including the advocates and their families who have been affected.

The compensation was mainly asked for the kith and kins of COVID-19 deceased families, for the welfare of children, where both of the parents have expired due to COVID-19. To compensate the families of people who died by COVID-19 with adequate solatium for the last rites and funeral expenses, these were the contentions of the petitioner.

After a thorough discussion by the bench of the Madras High court, “it was decided that it was a matter of policy of the state to decide whether to give compensation to a class of persons and to what extent. There is no doubt that diverse classes of people will be seeking compensation and it is a matter within the exclusive domain of the State. The Court cannot pick and choose advocates for preferential treatment because most functionaries in this field are advocates.”

The Madras high court also faced another plea of similar nature, the contention was to seek compensation which is adequate in nature and necessary in the heat of the moment, the contention also consisted of the plea for certain relief material and measures. The court’s decision towards these contentions was “It has become a habit in this Court to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution by way of public interest litigation, sometimes for self-publicity, to seek extraordinary orders which the judiciary may just not be component to pass. It is the matter of policy as to whether a state decides to extend relief or to what extent, to the people affected by any calamity or disaster”

Adding to this the respected bench also stated that various schemes and policies have already been put in place and implemented at both state level and central level for providing relief to certain classes of people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic situation, whether it is by the means of food or financial assistance provided by the state and central governments, the court concluded by saying that it is better if such matters are left to the executive for decision and the court doesn’t interfere with their decisions and policies.

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