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Key Takeaways

  • The Supreme Court in an earlier judgment had given directions to the Central Govt. to make the process of issuing death certificates simpler and to include suicide as COVID death.
  • The Centre issued guidelines to the effect which was challenged before the Court.
  • The Court asked to reconsider the decision of including suicide in the count of COVID death when COVID is an accompanying condition.
  • The SG has assured the Court that new guidelines would be framed by the next hearing.

Background

  • The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued guidelines for simplifying death certificate issuance according to the Supreme Court’s directions.
  • The guidelines stated that poisoning, suicide, homicide and accident deaths would not be considered as COVID-19 deaths even though it is an accompanying condition.
  • A contempt petition was filed before the Court for non-compliance of the guidelines laid down in Gaurav Bansal v. Union of India.

Grounds of Challenge

  • The Centre had presented before the Court a compliance affidavit stating that it had made guidelines to make the process of issuing death certificate simpler.
  • Guidelines for the issuance of an official document on COVID-19 deaths were jointly issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Indian Council for Medical Research.
  • The Registrar General of India has issued a circular directing the provision of a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to the deceased's next of kin.

Concerns Raised Earlier

  • The Bench asked the Centre to consider including suicide as COVID death.
  • Implementation of policy by states in accordance with the instructions set by the Centre
  • Timeline for the establishment of a Committee for the Redress of Grievances Concerning Death Certificates
  • Documents to be presented to the Committee by family members
  • Documents to be provided by the concerned hospitals

Court’s Observation

  • The Supreme Court has ordered the Centre to reconsider its decision not to count suicide deaths as COVID-19 deaths, even if COVID-19 is present.
  • The Bench has also requested that the Centre investigate the certificates that have already been given, as well as the remedies available to family members in the event of a disagreement over the cause of death.
  • Inform the Court of the Court's compliance with the National Disaster Management Authority's standards for determining compensation.
  • The Solicitor General promised that the guidelines for determining compensation would be in place by the next hearing date.

Do you think suicide should be considered as COVID death? Would it not unnecessarily cause spike in the death count and cause panic? Tell us in the comments section below!

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