The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the personal presence of Chief Secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar over non-payment of ex-gratia compensation to kin of those who succumbed to COVID-19 [Gaurav Kumar Bansal v. Union of India]..A Bench of Justices MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna asked the Chief Secretaries to remain present before the Court via video conference at 2 pm."They are not above the law. Ask them to be present at 2 pm," the Court ordered.The order was passed on a plea relating to payment of ex-gratia compensation of ₹4 lakh to the family members of those who have succumbed to the COVID-19 and post COVID complications.On June 30, 2021, the apex court had ordered the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to form guidelines for payment of ex gratia compensation to family members of persons who succumbed to Covid-19.The Court had left it to the wisdom of the NDMA to decide on the amount to be provided as ex gratia assistance.Subsequently, the Central government had filed an affidavit before the top court stating that it has recommended compensation of ₹50,000 for every person who succumbed to COVID-19.The Court had in October 2021, accepted the submission of the Centre that ₹50,000 shall be paid to next kin of deceased."Next kin of the deceased shall be paid an amount of Rs 50,000 and it will be over and above the amounts paid by centre and state under various benevolent schemes," the Court had said in an order passed last year..Pursuant to the direction of the court in the morning, the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh appeared through video conference. The senior bureaucrat assured the top court that if all claimants who have not received COVID compensation will have their applications reviewed failing which he is "ready to face contempt."The Supreme Court recorded the same in its order. "Chief secretaries of AP and Bihar have remained present through virtual mode. Senior Adv R Basant for AP has appeared. It is reported that by now AP has received 49,292 applications , 31,000 were found eligible and 6,000 was rejected. AP says payments to 28,000 claimants have been made. Another 10,000 is remaining out of which 5,000 clearance is there and payment will be there in next three days. Also 6,000 rejected claims will be examined by grievance redressal committee suo motu. If it is found that the rejection has been incorrect, State shall reach out all those claimants and give them opportunity to remove defects. AP Chief Secretary has assured court that AP shall ensure that not a single claimant who is eligible of compensation shall be deprived of it. We trust and hope that the Chief Secretary will stand by what he has assured to this court," the Court recorded..The Chief Secretary of Bihar also appeared before the Court but could not speak to the bench due to audio connectivity issues. However, the advocate appearing on behalf of Bihar assured the Court that all attempts will be made to reach the poor and illiterate so that they can make their applications."Looking into the peculiarity of the State, more effort is needed by State of Bihar to reach the eligible persons/ kin/ family members of the ones who succumbed to COVID-19," the court ordered. .The top court today further ordered that "no claims be rejected on technical grounds." "Claimants be given a chance to rectify their applications and such claims be seen by grievance redressal committee within a week from today," the Bench added..The court also ordered that State should reach out to children who lost their parents in the pandemic so that they can be given compensation, since they might not be in a position to make an application for compensation. "It is reported that in entire country as per info on Bal Swaraj Portal, approximately 10,000 children have lost both the parents. Therefore it will be very difficult for them to make an application for compensation. We direct states to reach to those children who have lost both the parents or surviving parent and whose particular are already uploaded on the bal swaraj portal, so that amount of compensation can be paid to them. We also direct concerned states to share full information/particular regarding info on the bal swaraj portal," the order said.