Bengaluru: A Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar has observed that the State Government cannot discriminate between the 24 COVID patients who died due to oxygen shortage in the first week of May.
The High Court was hearing the compensation issue yesterday where Advocate General Prabhuling K. Navadagi submitted that it had been decided to pay an ex-gratia amount of Rs. 5 lakh to the families of three patients, who died between 10.30 pm on May 2 and 2.30 am on May 3.
“Ten patients who died between 2.21 am and 9 am on May 3 will be paid inclusive of Rs. 2 lakh already paid. Regarding 11 persons who died before 10.30 pm on May 2, 2021, any ex-gratia in addition to Rs. two lakh already paid will be decided after Justice B.A. Patil Commission submits the report,” he told the Bench.
The Bench then directed the Government that it has to treat the families of the victims equally without making any distinction. The report of Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA) has highlighted the shortage of oxygen.
“The finding is that there was virtually no oxygen available in the hospital till 2.20 am on May 3. Therefore, it goes without saying that even the 10 patients listed in clause number 2 of the memo were also adversely affected due to lack of oxygen as in the case of 3 patients listed in clause 1. We are therefore of the view that there cannot be a distinction made between those who died between 10.30 pm – 2.20 am and those who died between 2.21 am – 9 am on May 3,” the Bench said.
The Court asked the Government to release Rs. 5 lakh each to the dependents of 14 patients and pay Rs. 2 lakh each for 11 patients and decide on the higher payments after the Commission submits its report.