A petitioner had alleged that the state had diverted SDRF funds — which were being used to disburse ex-gratia to kin of those who died from COVID-19 — in violation of the Disaster Management Act.

Representative image of the Supreme Court of India: SC directs Andhra govt to return SDRF funds diverted to personal deposit accountsSupreme Court of India/PTI
news Court Monday, July 18, 2022 - 14:36

The Supreme Court on Monday, July 18, directed the Andhra Pradesh government to transfer funds of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) which had been allegedly moved to personal deposit accounts back to the SDRF account within two days. The top court had earlier granted a "last opportunity" to the Andhra Pradesh government to file its response on a plea alleging the transfer of funds by the state from the SDRF to personal deposit accounts, and had restrained the state government from diverting the funds and issued notice to it in the matter.

Advocate Gaurav Bansal, appearing for petitioner Palla Srinivasa Rao, had submitted that Andhra Pradesh has diverted funds from the SDRF — which were being used to disburse ex-gratia to kin of those who died from COVID-19 — to personal deposit accounts which is not permissible under the Disaster Management Act. He had alleged that the state government was illegally utilising the funds of the SDRF for purposes other than specified under Section 46 (2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Personal Deposit Accounts, or Personal Ledger Accounts, are established under statutory provisions of the government or created under any law by transferring funds from the Consolidated Fund of the state for discharging liabilities of the state government arising out of special enactments. Such accounts may also be opened in favour of specified government officers, by transferring funds from the Consolidated Fund of the state, for discharging the liabilities of the state government in respect of the execution of various projects, schemes etc.

Read: SC restrains Andhra govt from transferring SDRF funds to personal deposit accounts

The court also directed all states and Union Territories to ensure payment of compensation to family members of COVID-19 victims without wasting any time. A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said that if any claimant has a grievance with respect to the non-payment of compensation and/or rejection of their claim then they may approach the grievance redressal committee concerned. It also directed the grievance redressal committee to decide the application of the claimant within four weeks. "We close the proceedings while directing all the states to see that the compensation payable under our earlier order be made to eligible persons without wasting any time and if any claimant has any grievance they may approach the concerned grievance redressal committee," the bench said.

Calling the Supreme Court order “a slap on the face of the state government”, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu said, “Diverting the funds meant for the assistance of even the Covid-affected is a classic example of the inhuman nature of the Jagan Mohan Reddy regime.” He added, “At least now, the state government should come to the rescue of the Covid-affected families and save them from the troubles that they are facing.”

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