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Doctors to face penal action for failing to certify Covid deaths, MHA tells SC


The MHA emphasized that all deaths with a diagnosis of Covid-19, irrespective of co-morbidities, are to be classified as deaths due to the infection

TFM Desk

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that any death resulting from Covid-19 infection should have to be certified as Covid death, and if not done so, the certifying doctor will face action, according to an agency report on Sunday.

In an affidavit, the Ministry of Home Affairs said, “It is mandated that any death resulting from Covid-19 must have to be so certified that is, as Covid death, failing which everyone responsible, including the certifying doctor, will be responsible for penal consequences.”

According to IANS report, it emphasised that all deaths with a diagnosis of Covid-19, irrespective of co-morbidities, are to be classified as deaths due to the infection.

The MHA affidavit said, “All deaths with a diagnosis of Covid-19 irrespective of co-morbidities are to be classified as deaths due to the infection. The only exception could be where there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be attributed to Covid-19 (e.g. accidental trauma, poisoning, acute myocardial infarction, etc) where Covid is an incidental finding.”

It submitted that for recording of Covid-19 deaths, that there is a statutory mechanism in place either by way of an Act of Parliament or guidelines having the force of mandate and the law. Any breach of the guidelines mentioned here under would be a criminal offence as stipulated under Section 188 of the IPC, it said.

Noting that broad guidelines for recording of Covid-19 related deaths in India were prepared by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), it said, “The guidelines clearly state Covid-positive deaths implicate deaths related to the infection. These guidelines are in sync with the WHO Mortality Coding.”

On May 24, the Supreme Court had suggested there must be a uniform policy and also some guidelines for issuance of death certificates for those affected with Covid-19.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and M.R.Shah had said many times, reasons given in a death certificate can be heart attack or lung failure but these could be triggered by Covid-19. The bench asked Centre’s counsel, “So how are death certificates being issued?”

The Centre filed affidavit in response to the petitions filed by advocates Reepak Kansal and Gaurav Kumar Bansal citing Section 12(3) of the Disaster Management Act (DMA) providing monetary compensation for the families of those who died during a notified disaster. The top court will take up the matter on Monday.

The Centre said as per the provisions of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, the contemporary system is state governed and implementation of the statute is vested with the state governments/Union Territories administration.

The state authority (Chief Registrar) has been declared as the chief executive authority in the respective state for implementing the provisions of this Act and rules and the order framed.

“The District Registrar for each district within the state is responsible for executing the provision of RBD Act and rules in respective districts. There are more than 2.8 lakh registration centres in rural areas and nearly 7,500 in urban areas,” the affidavit added.

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