A forum of central secretariat officers has urged the Union government to provide ex gratia of ₹1 crore and relax the rules for providing jobs to the dependent next of kin as immediate relief for the families of government officials who lost their lives in the pandemic.
As per a list provided by the central secretariat services forum (CSS), a representative body of central secretariat service officers, 60 officials in various government departments have lost their lives during the second wave of the pandemic. As many as 119 officials working in the Central Board of Direct Taxes and 110 in the Central Board of Indirect Taxes have also lost their lives to the pandemic, as per government sources.
The All India Banking Employees Association (AIBEA) that also has asked the Centre to ensure that rules are relaxed for appointments on compassionate grounds. AIBEA general secretary CH Venkatachalam said there have been about 1,400 casualties in the banking sector since the pandemic began in 2020.
In a letter to department of personnel & training minister Jitendra Singh on May 26, the CSS forum said, “As per official figures reported in India till now, 0.03% of citizens of age 21 and above have died due to Covid-19 whereas a whopping 0.6% of CSS offices have died due to Covid 19 till date, which is 20 times of the national average.”
Seeking a relaxation in rules for appointment, it said there is already a long list of requests for compassionate appointments which are pending with almost all department heads in different ministries and departments.
Also Read | States lifted full PMGKAY quota in May, says Centre
A member of the CSS union said since there is no provision of ex gratia for civil servants like in the armed forces; families can only get help on the basis of family pension, gratuity, insurance etc. “Taking cognisance of delays in release of terminal benefits to families of the deceased particularly in states, the union had urged the process to be expedited,” the member said.
An official aware of the details said while the government is working to expedite the release of terminal benefits, there is little it can offer by way of jobs on compassionate ground. “As per a Supreme Court order, jobs on compassionate grounds cannot exceed 5% of the total direct recruitment quota. Such jobs are limited to group C. The vacancies that have arisen are across levels and some are at senior positions… It may not be possible for fill these on compassionate grounds,” the official said.
AIBEA’s Venkatachalam said the federation wants the banks to relax the rules for compassionate appointment and also ensure the vacancies are filled within a month. He also said while the banks had decided to give ₹20 lakh as compensation to those who died in service, it is not being uniformly implemented across private sector banks. He said that the guidelines for bank employees are not extended to those in contractual service, business correspondents, deposit collectors, and those who are engaged in gold appraising. “There is also a need to declare bank employees as frontline workers and expedite their vaccination,” he added.
Last month, the finance ministry directed all the government departments to settle all claims on a priority basis for those employees who died on account of Covid while in service.
The first official quoted above said that since 2016, there is a specific instruction to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) that “all death case claims submitted by families or legal heirs of the EPF members have to be settled within seven days from the date of submission of the claims. In some cases, this is not followed, sometimes it is owing to inconsistencies in the claims.”
The Union ministry of labour and employment also announced on May 31 that members of the Employees’ Provident fund Organisation can take a second non-refundable Covid-19 advance to meet any financial exigency during the pandemic. EPF subscribers can take a non-refundable advance of basic wages plus dearness allowance for three months or after 75% of the amount in their account, whichever is lesser.